Team Poland Puts Up Valiant Effort In Loss To Spain In FIBA World Cup Quarterfinals (09/10/19)

Team Poland gave Spain, the number two ranked team in the World, a great game in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday (September 10th).

Spain came out on top by twelve, 90-78, in a game that saw the Poland squad, under head coach and former Clarion Bobcat Mike Taylor, refuse to quit. Spain led by four, 22-18 after one. A three-point basket by A.J. Slaughter at 7:19, of the second, brought Poland to within one, 29-28. But three straight three-pointers by Spain, moved their lead to ten, 38-28. Poland kept chipping away and by halftime, they were within five points, at 46-41.

With a three pointer by Mateaus Ponitka, early in the third, Poland was down by only four , 48-44. Spain then went on a 10-0 run to move their lead to ten. Poland got to within seven, 65-58, at 1:23, with Michal Sokolowski hitting a layup. The period would end on a two-point shot by Spain at the buzzer giving them a 67-58 advantage heading into the fourth.

Spain led by as much as eleven, but Poland chipped away at the lead, closing the gap to four, 76-72, with about five and a half minutes to go. But that was as close as it would get, with Spain outscoring Poland 14-6 the rest of the way.

A.J. Slaughter led Poland with 19 points. Adam Waczynski had 15, Sokolowski had 11 and Damien Kulig finished with ten.

Ricky Rubio led Spain with 19 points. Willy Hernandez Geuero had 18 and Rudy Fernandez had sixteen.

The ESPN+ court-side announcers had high praise for Team Poland, a team that was not expected to make it this far, a team that is made up of mostly homegrown players, who have come along though Poland’s National system.

They mentioned Poland’s consistency in their program with their core players and the fact that Coach Taylor has been with the team for six years. They pointed out that was the right fit for Poland.

Team Poland will now face the Czech Republic in a consolation round game on Thursday. Coach Taylor was an assistant on the Czech Republic team for several years, immediately preceding his taking over as Team Poland’s head coach. Depending how the rest of the games pan out, Team Poland could possibly qualify for the Olympics.

The Polish National Team is 4-2 in 2019 FIBA World Cup action so far. Their only losses have come two two teams in the Final Four Spain and Argentina. beat host They beat host China and Russia along the way.

So they should be very, very proud of their accomplishments.

All you have to do to see the love and respect that the Team Poland players and coaches have for each other, the hard work and comaraderie that is a hallmark of this team, is to check out the comments from Coach Taylor and Adam Waszynski, (a team Captain) from the post-game press conference. I have included many of the comments, as they truly paint a picture of this bond.

Coach Taylor: First I want to say I love our team. I’m so proud of the way we represented Poland and played in this tournament here. We’ve been on a fantastic run and, of course, tonight we wanted that dream. We played for that dream and you could see us play hard and give our best. We got behind a couple times and fought back. I have so much respect for our players.

It was tough. We tip our cap and respect Spain; great players, well coached, a team with great tradition. And we wanted to pull that big upset. Unfortunately, tonight it wasn’t to be. But again we respect our opponents, we respect the game. I believe, the way we played at this World Cup, people respect the Polish National Team.

(I) love our players and am very proud of our performance to this point and we’ll keep going.

Clearly Spain has high level players and it is easy for those high level players to impact the game on a consistent basis. They did that today. They are really experienced and that was a factor. But I think, at the end of the day, it came down to the talent level of the Spanish players just creating advantages. And when they created those advantages, it was difficult for us to consistently defend them. …Lets point to the talent level of Spain as the number one point. The experience is a factor, but again, we did our best today. So we tip our cap with respect to Spain.

The second thing I can speak on is what I think has made a difference for our team. We started together as a core in 2014, and we’ve worked year-for-year together. We’ve got great relationships together, within the National Team. We’ve got guys that respect each other. We’ve got players that are true professionals. They may not play in the NBA, but we’ve got players like Adam and Mataus and all the guys; they’re building their careers and working. They’ve made a great commitment to the National Team.

So our heart has been in these games. The experience together and the heart, I think that has made the difference for us, to get on this run. I think it’s a similar situation for the Czech Republic. And to me, it is the experience playing together, knowing your team, having an understanding and respect for each other and then playing with your heart for your country. I think those are the keys, at least with the two surprise teams, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Adam Waszynski: A tough game for us for sure, but we fought to the end. We really have respect for all the players; they never gave up. Even though we were not winning, always fighting. Many times they were up by ten, even more than ten and we came back. We tried to do our best.

We tried to limit their things; of course, against Spain, you can’t stop everything. We tried to switch many things during the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work many times. But at least we were fighting. I’m really, really proud of the team. Where we are, I think, is a big success for Polish basketball. We got the opportunity, and we will not surrender, we will fight to the end. We still have two more games and everything is opened. We will try to win what we can.

(A reporter asked Waszynski, “As someone involved with Polish Junior and National Teams dating back to 2006, what has it meant to you personally to be part of such a wonderful ride?”)

It is a big honor, a big honor from the beginning as a Junior til now. Coach Mike Taylor gave me a tremendous belief and made me a captain of the team. It’s a big, big honor. I’m proud to represent Poland. …It’s a big pleasure to be in this group of people together; more than a month of preparation, spending time together, laughing together, playing together. It’s a really big, big thing. And I think this is how we ended up here.

We built it up from 2014, with Coach Mike. And this is our biggest strength, that we stay together always, no matter what. We win together, we lose together; we try to be like a fist. Teams like Spain, of course, they’ve got great players, but we try to compete against them.

We have eight players from the Polish League and we are here in the quarterfinals, the Top Eight. Big, Big Respect. I’m going to finish with this: I’m really proud to represent my country, with this group of people.

(Congratulations Coach Taylor and Team Poland on this great ride!!!! Beat Czech Republic!! Mike, you make us Clarion Proud!!!!)