Poles Ready To Battle In Spain

19 October 2006

By Jeff Taylor, PA Sport

Poland will fight for every loose ball, every rebound and every point in a bid to progress from the group stage at EuroBasket 2007.

That is the promise of national team coach Andrej Urlep, whose team was on Thursday drawn against Italy, Slovenia and France in Group D.

Andrzej Pluta (Poland)
Andrzej Pluta helped Poland to a 4-2 record in EuroBasket qualifying round play.
Urlep's team, who booked their place in the tournament after finishing top of qualifying Group A with four wins and two defeats, face a monumental task to advance to the second group phase in Spain.

"I think we got a very tough group," Urlep said to PA Sport.

"It will be very hard for us to win a game but definitely we won't give up and we'll fight in every game and we believe we'll be able to win at least one game.

"That's our goal, to win once and progress."

Poland last played in a EuroBasket in Spain in 1997.

To return this year, they had to take on Bulgaria and Ukraine - two sides that played in EuroBasket 2005 - and Sweden in qualifying. 

"I think we did a good job," Urlep said.

"We didn't have all of the players we were supposed to have, and I hope those who didn't play will want to come to the European Championships.

"I also hope some of the young guys will develop in the league and ca help us."

All three teams Poland will face took part in this summer's FIBA World Championship in Japan.

France won the bronze medal at EuroBasket 2005 and boast the terrific talent of point guard Tony Parker and versatile Boris Diaw, while 2005 Olympic silver medal winners Italy are always one of Europe's leading sides.

The Italians will be hoping rising star Andrea Bargnani will be available after missing this summer's World Championship to focus on his rookie season in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors.

Slovenia, who have several NBA players in their squad, advanced to the  last 16 of the World Championship this summer.

"All three teams are very good European teams," Urlep said.


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