|Angelika Stankiewicz powered Poland to something of an upset victory over Netherlands|
Poland held their nerve down the stretch to outlast Netherlands and claim a dramatic 55-50 win on the final day of first round action at the U20 European Championship Women in Udine on Saturday.
Turning Point: The game was still in the balance with Poland leading 52-50 when Magdalena Szajtauer chased down the long rebound from Angelika Stankiewicz's missed three-point attempt with 20 seconds to play. This gave Poland possession with the shot clock turned off and forced Netherlands to start fouling to stop the clock.
Game Hero: While Szajtauer came up with that crucial late rebound, Stankiewicz was the catalyst of so much of Poland' success. She picked up three steals as she and her backcourt team-mates pressured Netherlands all over the floor, resulting in many a tide-turning fast-break bucket.
Stats Don't Lie: Poland's 10 steals were a deciding factor. Not just the steals themselves but the constant threat of being stripped of the ball clearly affected Netherlands' guards and they struggled to get into their offensive sets.
The Bottom Line: Poland's passionate reaction at the final buzzer showed this win clearly meant a lot to them. It could be key in helping them build the necessary momentum to go even further in the competition and could yet see them take top spot in Group D depending on other results.
There was no shame for Netherlands in losing this game but simply too many of their scorers shot poorly. Their chief concern will be whether such a heart-breaking defeat leaves a mental mark.