Georgia Shut Down Poland In Opener

04 September 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Viktor Sanikidze (Georgia)
Viktor Sanikidze was the hero for Georgia, scoring11 points in the opening half to put his team on the right foot

Turning Point: Georgia piled on the pressure on an already nervous-looking Polish side in the last five minutes of the second frame, forced them to commit turnover after turnover and went on a 14-2 run that gave them a 39-22 lead at half-time and left the Poles with a mountain to climb.

Game Hero: Viktor Sanikhidze was inspirational against the famed Polish frontcourt on both ends of the floor and paved the way for Georgia's fantastic first half with 11 points on 4-for-5 from the floor.

Stats Don't Lie: Poland scored their first three-pointer in the fourth quarter, after having missed their first ten attempts and after the game had already slipped from their hands. Georgia got 14 points off Polish turnovers in the first half to build their crucial advantage, as Poland gave away possession six times in that crucial second-quarter stretch.

A defensively rock-solid Georgia came up with a masterful second-quarter performance to stun Poland 84-67 in the game that raised the curtain on EuroBasket 2013 First Round Group C action on Wednesday.

In a typically nervous EuroBasket premiere, both teams started off looking a bit numb, their legs as heavy as if they had just climbed to the peak of the Slovenian Triglav mountains.

Sanikhidze calmly rose from seven metres out and drilled a triple with 6:06 left in the first quarter, and followed up with an imperial lay-up on the next Georgian possession, his team's first baskets from the floor.

While that got Georgia going, nothing seemed enough to force Poland to snap out of their lethargic start.

Maciej Lampe got called on his second foul during the first quarter and Marcin Gortat looked for help from the perimeter, that never arrived.

"We knew that they have two dominant big men so we were prepared for that, we knew we had to double-team all the time and it worked out well," said Sanikhidze, explaining Georgia's defensive game plan.

Whenever the Polish big men kicked the ball out, it proved fruitless - Poland went 0-for-10 from three-point range in the first three quarters.

If this was part of Georgia's plan all along, Sanikidzhe is coy about it: "Maybe they had a bad day, or maybe we got a bit lucky too today, but that is how it is," the forward said.

Georgia sensed the game was theirs for the taking, shifted gears, upped the tempo and looked for the easy basket in transition, as Poland were increasingly losing concentration, their defensive transitions after a missed shot or turnover almost non-existent.

When Georgia went up 29-20 on a Giorgi Shermadini dunk with 4:37 left in the second, Poland called a time-out, but nothing changed.

Poland continued to give away possession and Georgia building up confidence, so much so that Besik Lezhava attempted and hit a triple on the fast break, to make it 38-22 just before the half-time buzzer.

Georgia took a 39-22 lead at the interval and the body language of both sets of players in the start of the third quarter was telling: there was no way this game could turn around any more, not on this night.

Poland only came as close as 15 points in the second half, and never really attempted a comeback.

"It was great to win the first game but it doesn't mean nothing, we have four more games to qualify from this group," Sanikidzhe revealed Georgia's intentions, in case anyone thought this win was just a fluke.

 

 


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