Poland Desperate For A Win, Face Spain

12.06.2009

Poland won't need any extra incentive to beat Spain when the two meet in the Qualifying Round Group E on Saturday as they need a win to strengthen their bid for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

But six years ago, as all of Poland will remember, their team self-destructed in the fourth quarter of the bronze-medal game against Spain, a result that sent the winners to the Athens Games and kept the Poles out of the Olympics.

That success is arguably the most important moment in recent Spanish basketball history because the team has been among the best in Europe ever since with Quarter-Final appearances in Athens and at last year's Olympics, and podium finishes at the last two EuroBaskets.

Poland appeared to be on their way to victory against Slovakia in their last game after fighting back from an early deficit to lead 30-22 early in the second half.

Slovakia's defense took over the rest of the way and fired the team to a 65-56 triumph.

"Against Slovakia, we didn't do a good job on defense," Poland's Paulina Pawlak said. "We cannot play like this when we have 23 turnovers and they had 21 offensive rebounds."

Spain, whose defense has yet to give up 60 points in any of their games, have already qualified for the Quarter-Finals but they will be keen to keep their winning momentum going.

Last Time Out: Spain's veteran players won't soon forget their last meeting against Poland. The Spaniards came back from a 17-point deficit in the second half to beat Poland 87-81 and clinch the bronze medal at the 2003 EuroBasket in Patras. As a result, Spain qualified for the Olympics for the first time in their history. 

Key Match-Up: Spain's Alba Torrens vs Poland's Agnieszka Bibrzycka. If the long-armed Torrens shows up at the Arena Riga on Saturday the way she did two days earlier against Greece, high-scoring Bibrzycka will have to work hard for her points.

Stats: Spain's defense limited Greece to just four points in the third quarter and forced them to commit 25 turnovers. Slovakia scored 14 points from Poland's 23 turnovers.
 
X-Factor: Poland's Wisla Kan Krakow center Ewelina Kobryn will be eager to leave behind her disappointing performance against Slovakia when she was just one of seven (14%) from the floor.
 
Sounding-Off: "My team played incredible defense against Greece in the third quarter. We must pick up where we left off in that game and continue to work hard on defense" - Spain head coach Evaristo Perez.


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