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Polish National Basketball Team Qualifies For EuroBasket 2022; Head Coach Mike Taylor Was Standout Athlete And 1990 Clarion Area Graduate

(Team Poland Photo) Team Poland 2022 EuroBasket Qualifiers – Mike fifth from left in front row – complete caption at bottom of article.

Polish National Basketball Team Coach Mike Taylor and his staff have guided the team to the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 (European Championship Tournament – and FIBA World’s Qualifier). He led Poland to their second World Cup appearance in history and a top 8 finish in China in 2019. 

Mike is a 1990 Clarion Area High graduate, and star athlete who played basketball for Coach Tom Lewis and football for Coach Larry Wiser, has led team Team Poland from 2014 to present.

Mike’s Dad is Dick Taylor, former Clarion University basketball coach and college professor.

Mike’s and his wife Alice have two sons Luke (5) and Nick (1) and when in the US, reside in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

This will be Mike Taylor’s fourth consecutive European Championship.  After participating in Eurobasket 2013 as an assistant coach for the Czech Republic, Mike has led Poland to Eurobasket 2015 in France, Eurobasket 2017 in Finland and now Eurobasket 2022. 

Mike was hired by Poland in 2014 and is in his 7th year as National team head coach.  

In an interesting note, Mike was an assistant for Czech Republic at Eurobasket 2013, on September 5th, 2013 in Celje, Slovenia. Czech Republic upset Poland 69-68 on a game winning 3 point shot by Lubos Barton. Mike was hired by the Polish Basketball Federation four months later January 29th, 2014.

FIBA EuroBasket 2022, is to be hosted by four countries Italy, Germany, Czech Repubic and Georgia, taking place from September 1st through 18th, 2022. EuroBasket 2021 was originally scheduled for this September, but due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, schedules for the Olympic games and EuroBasket were pushed back.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, FIBA moved all National Team competition into a “bubble” format beginning with the November window for EuroBasket 2022 qualifications.  Poland played in the Valencia Bubble in November and most recently hosted a bubble in Gliwice, Poland February 15th to 23rd.

Poland finished 3-3 in Group A behind Israel and Spain and ahead of Romania, with the top three teams from Group A qualifying.  

Before EuroBasket, the 24 qualified teams are drawn into 4 groups of 6 teams.  The top 3 teams advance into the second round.

Poland’s biggest win of the Qualifying was an 80-69 away victory over Spain (World Rank #2 and European Rank #1) in Zaragoza, Spain last February 23rd.

This was Poland’s first win over Spain in 48 years (1972).  In the rematch last weekend, Poland and Spain played to the final second with the score even at 88 and an official whistled a loose ball foul on Poland giving Spain two free throws with 0.6 seconds left.  Spanish big man Fran Guerra made the first and missed the second, to give Spain an 89-88 win.  

As Israel beat Romania Friday night February 19th in Gliwice, Poland earned a ticket to Eurobasket. 

Poland chose to use the opportunity of Sunday February 21st game against Romania to play young, rising players including 3 who made their National team debut’s. Most notable, 17 year old Jeremy Sochan became the youngest player to ever debut for the Polish National team.  The Baylor commit put on a show scoring 18 points, grabbing 3 rebounds and blocking 2 shots in his first National team performance.  

Another rising prospect for Poland, 20 year old 7’1″ Olek Balcerowski averaged 7.3ppg with 3.3rebounds including 11 points on a perfect 5 for 5 night against Romania.

Poland’s AJ Slaughter finished third in scoring for the qualification averaging 20.5ppg.  AJ, who played college basketball at Western Kentucky, attacked against Spain with two big games scoring 26 points in Zaragoza and 27 points in Gliwice hitting 6 of 10 three-point shots and 11 of 11 free-throws.

Some Statistics and Notes from Team Poland’s run in the Qualifier:

Michal Sokolowski (11.2ppg) and Michal Michalak (10.2ppg) also averaged double figures in scoring for the qualification.

Power forward Aaron Cel paced Poland in rebounding with 6.6 per game.

Big man Damian Kulig finished 4th in blocks with 2.0 per game.

Veteran point guard Lukasz Koszarek led Poland in assists with 4.2 per game.

Small forward Michal Sokolowski finished tied for 6th in steals with 2.2 per game followed by AJ Slaughter (1.5) and Aaron Cel (1.4)

Poland finished 2nd in steals collecting 55 over the 6 games qualification for an average of 9.2 per game.

Poland also had good discipline defensively, tying for 4th in fewest fouls averaging 19.7 fouls per game

Poland finished 4th in free throw shooting making 112 of 139 free throws for 80.6%.

Poland finished 8th out of 32 teams in scoring averaging 81.7ppg in the qualifications.

Poland finished 9th in fewest turnovers with 12.5 per game

Poland finished tied with Israel for 7th in efficiency at 90.3 per game.

AJ Slaughter finished 10th in individual efficiency at 19.0

Poland finished tied for 11th in 3pt shooting averaging 34.8% making 48 of 138.

Personal Highlights from Mike Taylor’s professional coaching career:

First team in Europe BV Chemnitz 99ers (Germany 3rd divison) in 2001-2002

DG Essex Leopards in the British Basketball League 2002-2003

Ratiopharm Ulm 2003-2011

Assistant for Czech Republic national team summers 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013

Rio Grande Valley Vipers (G-League) (assistant coach for Nick Nurse) (2011-2012)

Hired by Boston Celtics as Head Coach of Maine Red Claws 2012-2013/2013-2014

Polish National team 2014-present

Hamburg Towers in Germany (2018-2019/2019-2020)

Team Fredette in TBT 2018 (advanced to final four in Baltimore losing in semifinals)

Coached three German teams to League championships/promotion:  Chemnitz in 2001-2002, ratiopharm Ulm in 2005-2006 and Hamburg Towers in 2018-2019

Coached Maine Red Claws to first ever playoff appearance in team history 2012-2013

Coached in D League all-star game in Houston Texas in 2013

Led Poland to 2nd World Cup in history and a top 8 finish in China in 2019 

(CONGRATULATIONS TO MIKE AND TEAM POLAND!!!! MIKE, YOU MAKE US CLARION PROUD!!!!)

FiBA official website: FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers – FIBA.basketball    you can find video links to game highlights and press conferences for Poland

Official website for our Polish National teams Kosz Kadra:  KoszKadra.pl – oficjalna strona koszykarskich reprezentacji Polski

(Photo from left to right)

Front Row:  Pawel Lakomski (red polo)(media director), Grzegorz Bachanski (Federation Vice President), Radek Piesiewicz (Federation President), Lukasz Koszarek (team captain), Mike Taylor, AJ Slaughter, Lukasz Kolenda (#10), Marcel Ponitka (#2), Kuba Majewski (red polo)(athletic trainer), Michal Sokolowski (Gray hoody), Dominik Naroyczk (red polo)(conditioning coach), Marcin Wozniak (assistant coach).

Second Row:  Marek Popiolek (technical director), Arkadiusz Miloszewski (assistant coach), Igor Milicic Jr (blocked), Olek Dziewa, Jakub Garbacz (blocked by fist), Jeremy Sochan (arm around AJ), Dominik Olejniczak, Michal Michalak, Adam Hrycaniuk (red polo), Adam Waczynski, Marcin Blonski (red polo)(team Doctor), Artur Gronik (assistant coach), Michal Polpharma (Technical Directors assistant), Maciek Krupinski (red polo behind Sokolowski)(team leader), Aaron Cel (Gray Hoody leaning on Naroczyk)

Back:  Olek Balcerowski (arms extended)