|Szymon Szewczyk will take on a leading role for Poland in the absence of Marcin Gortat and Maciej Lampe|
Poland center Szymon Szewczyk knows that if his team is to achieve its aim at the EuroBasket in Lithuania it will need a huge collective effort from the start.
The Poles have travelled to Panevezys without centers Marcin Gortat and Maciej Lampe and forward Michal Ignerski.
So new coach Ales Pipan needs outstanding play from Szewczyk, but more importantly from the team as as a whole.
The Poles are in Group A alongside defending champions Spain, EuroBasket hosts Lithuania, World Championship silver medalists Turkey, Great Britain and Portugal.
fibaeurope.com: Szymon, how different is this Poland team with respect to 2009?
Szewczyk: "We have a new team with nine new players, who are playing in their first EuroBasket. It's a young team with a lot of spirit, self-confidence. For us, the most important thing is not to be afraid of the stars and the big names in the other teams and just play our basketball."
fe: How significant is the absence of Marcin Gortat for the team?
Szewczyk: "He has been a reference point for the team but we cannot think about the players that are not here with us. We will of course have to fill that void. But no player is irreplaceable. We have great, young, strong players like Adam Lapeta, Adam Hrycaniuk and myself that can replace Gortat. With Gortat out, we each feel more pressure. Before we knew that Gortat was under the basket, that he can block and rebound, so now all five players have to work for every rebound, every block, every steal, every offense, every defense. We know that everybody is responsible for something in the team."
fe: Poland finished ninth at the EuroBasket in 2009. What is the expectation heading into the tournament and how difficult will the group stage be for your side?
Szewczyk: "Everyone expects us to go out of the tournament early on. We are considered the underdogs in the group. Pipan is trying to put a bit of pressure on us because we want to play for something. Our goal is to progress past the group stage and we do have very tough opponents.
We have Spain, Lithuania and Turkey that are basketball powerhouses, and then there is Portugal and Great Britain, who are not here just because someone gave them a free ticket. Our expectations are to play good and tough basketball and try to win as much as possible."
fe: This is your third EuroBasket. Does it feel any different than with respect to previous tournaments?
Szewczyk: "I'm just getting older! I am proud to play for national team. This is my third EuroBasket with a third coach so I hope that with Ales we can continue a long time because I'm very happy
to work with him. We have changed the team and I hope that with this group we will have continuity.
"If I can be a part of this group for the next couple of years, I would very much like this."