By Adriana Garcia Senchermes
Turning Point: With Poland leading 17-16, the EuroBasket hosts scored nine unanswered points as part of a 27-9 run to take a commanding 44-25 advantage after 15 minutes played.
Hero: Poland forward Michal Ignerski poured in 22 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter.
Key Stat: Poland were 10 of 24 (42%) from three-point range while Bulgaria finished five of 19 (26%).
Poland electrified their home crowd with a fine performance against Bulgaria in the opening EuroBasket Group D game in Wroclaw.
Riding the strong first-half performances of Michal Ignerski and Marcin Gortat and a suffocating defense, the tournament hosts won 90-78.
With every steal, fast-break and made shot triggering standing ovations and the beating of drums from the passionate fans wearing red and white inside the packed Centennial Hall, the Poles showed they will be a force to be reckoned with over the next fortnight.
|Todor Stoykov had eight points, four rebounds and three assists in the loss.|
"This was a must-win game for us," said Poland coach Muli Katzurin.
"In my experience at EuroBaskets, you know the first game is always open.
"The atmosphere was fantastic and my team played very well."
Bulgaria coach Pini Gershon agreed.
"Congratulations to Poland," he said.
"They deserved the win, they played better than us for most of the game.
"We had prepared for the game knowing that we couldn't let them run and yet we lost the game through many points on fast break.
"This is basketball."
The newcomer to the Poland team, Prokom Sopot shooting guard David Logan of the United States, had a game-high 23 points while Michal Ignerski poured in 22, 11 of which came in the first quarter.
"We knew Ignerski was a good player," said Gershon. "We didn't have anyone to stop him."
With Poland leading 17-16, the EuroBasket hosts scored nine unanswered points as part of a 27-9 run to take a commanding 44-25 advantage 15 minutes into the game.
A Logan three-ball at the buzzer gave the hosts a 52-37 lead at the break, with Poland's Orlando Magic center Gortat scoring 12 of his 16 points in the opening half.
He also pulled down 10 rebounds and swatted five shots.
"We played a great first half," said Katzurin said.
"Our defense was excellent, especially in stopping them from making their three-pointers."
Poland were 10 of 24 (42%) from three-point range while Bulgaria finished five of 19 (26%).
Bulgaria managed to cut deficit to 79-72 with 6:59 left on the clock but the Poles never looked threatened and went on a 11-6 run en route to victory.
The new addition to Bulgaria's team, Earl Rowland, led them with 20 points.