|Michal Ignerski scored 21 points to help Poland edge Italy in the final game of the Sopot Basket Cup|
National teams all over are getting closer to the start of the EuroBasket Qualification Round and several played in important tournaments over the weekend.
One of the sides to make strides was Italy, who claimed two wins in three games at the Sopot Basket Cup in Gdansk, Poland.
The Azzurri opened their account with an 87-85 victory over Latvia and followed that with a 78-72 triumph over Montenegro.
Hosts Poland prevented the Italians from having a clean sweep with a 66-62 win on Sunday.
Michal Ignerski led the Poles with 21 points.
"It was an opportunity to gain experience," Italy coach Simone Pianigiani said.
"We played a final (against Poland) point to point, we played well defensively, but we wasted a lot in attack.
"A few details went wrong in the end and we paid the consequences."
Indeed, at the end of the Poland game, Italy didn't execute the offense.
"We rushed shots," Pianigiani said.
Overall, though, the coach believes the Sopot Basket Cup will help the Italians.
"It's the sort of experience we needed to take a further leap in quality."
Stefano Mancinelli had 17 points for Italy against Poland.
Latvia Respect For Poles
Latvia lost their three games at the Sopot Basket Cup.
They fell by two points to Italy, 25 to Poland and 11 to Montenegro.
After the team's heaviest defeat to Poland, 99-74, Latvia coach Ainars Bagatskis offered some interesting thoughts.
"The Poles showed a very aggressive defense," he said.
"A key player was (center) Marcin Gorat, who is a huge threat under both baskets.
"I also like the fact that (Poland coach) Ales Pipan, who is undoubtedly a great coach, gives an opportunity to young players. This should pay off in the future."
One of the youngsters Bagatskis was referring to was Mateusz Ponitka, the 18-year-old who played for Poland at the U20 European Championship Division B this summer and averaged 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds.
"I am very happy with the opportunities to learn in the senior national team," the 1.94 m Ponitka said.
"Today's performance was certainly good, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I am here to support the team..."
Pipan, whose team lost its first encounter to Montenegro, 75-69, saw improvement against the Latvians.
"Compared to the first game, we played a little better," Pipan said.
"We showed an aggressive defense, played better on offense. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but everything is moving in the right direction.
"We must certainly appreciate the attitude of the young players who regularly get a chance and use it."
After winning two of three games, he said: "After a second place in the tournament in Trento, we achieved the same result in Gdansk.
"Certain issues still need to be resolved, which was evident by our drop in play in the last quarter in the game against Latvia and this tournament was another opportunity to get a clearer picture and to clear up certain situations.
"In this sense, I am satisfied with the checks that we had in Gdansk."
|Serbia's Milos Teodosic earned MVP honours at the Adecco Cup in Slovenia|
Serbia Win Adecco Cup
EuroBasket 2013 host Slovenia do not have to go through a Qualification Round campaign, yet coach Bozidar Maljkovic is still leading an under-strength national side in games as a momentum-building exercise for the team, and the federation.
When the tournament was over, Serbia were first with three wins and no defeats ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2-1), Slovenia (1-2) and Croatia (0-3).
On the opening day, the Slovenians fell to Bosnia and Herzegovina, 80-79, with Mirza Teletovic's 22 points and eight rebounds pacing the visitors.
On Day 2, Slovenia downed Croatia, 83-76, with Domen Lorbek's 22 points a game-high.
Serbia won 101-91 against Bosnia and Herzegovina after a sensational Teodosic scored 29 points and dished out 11 assists, while Dusko Savanovic contributed 18.
On Day 3, Teletovic erupted for 25 points and Nihad Djedovic 23 for Bosnia and Herzegovina as they won 78-68 over Croatia.
Serbia, meanwhile, scraped an 80-75 win over Slovenia.