Igor Miličičić’s students won 94:86 on Sunday in a point-to-point viral fight for a place among the eight most powerful teams of the tournament.
14 points were scored by A. Balcerowski, a 21-year-old 219 cm tall player from Las Palmas.Gran Canaria” (Spain) club tower.
After the victory Delphi when asked if facing the Ukrainians in a vital match in the current geopolitical circumstances was not a little awkward, the young midfielder hastened to finish his speech.
“I’d rather not say anything about it. This is a basketball tournament, and I don’t want to talk about politics,” said A. Balcerowski.
The topic of the war in Ukraine has subtle implications for the Polish national team, as the captain of the team, Mateusz Ponitka, was condemned in his homeland last March.
The striker was in no hurry to leave the St. Petersburg Zenit club after the start of the Russian invasion and was even preparing to continue representing it. He left Russia only after a wave of indignation arose in Poland.
But in this European Championship, Ukraine does not receive much attention in general – at least compared to other major international sports events that have taken place in the last six months.
On Sunday, the blue and yellow flags were hardly visible in the Mercedes-Benz Arena, just as they were absent in other matches, neither in Berlin nor in Cologne, where Lithuania played in the group stage.
On the one hand, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules allow only the flags of the countries represented by the teams playing on the field to be displayed in the stands during the competition.
On the other hand, chants about Russian President Vladimir Putin, which have been echoing for years in football, basketball or other sports arenas, were not heard either – Lithuanian fans did not care about that either.
Is it possible that for Europeans, the war taking place on the sidelines is gradually turning into a normal phenomenon that no longer causes great emotions?
Delphi when asked about this by the midfielder of the Ukrainian national team Artiom Pustovoyus, UCAM of Murcia (Spain) the club representative tried to be diplomatic.
“We felt the support. The most important thing is that we were here, representing the country. I know that a lot of people in Ukraine used to watch our matches – basketball put aside the troubles that beset our country for at least a few hours. We performed well in the first stage, although the group was difficult. I think we have made people in Ukraine happy,” thought the 218 cm tall giant.
“I hope that we help our compatriots to distract their minds, give them inspiration. The last game was not the best example, but we tried our best to give pleasure to Ukraine, because they are going through difficult times,” added Toronto Raptors (NBA) forward Svetislav Mykhailiuk.
Their team started the championship in Group C in Milan (Italy). The Ukrainians beat the British, Estonians and Italians, lost to the Croats and the Greeks, and only missed the latter in the standings.
In this way, the students of Latvian Ainars Bagatskis had a great opportunity to try to extend their performance even further, since the possibilities of the Polish team before the championship were considered reserved.
However, in the end, Lithuania’s southern neighbors were able to march further than, say, the army of Kazis Maksvytis.
“No one believed we would be where we are now. I am very happy for our entire national team, this is a wonderful achievement”, said A. Balcerowski.
“Six months ago, I was in a very dark place – no one believed in me, no one believed in our team. And that’s where we are now. We will be able to tell our grandchildren about this,” said M. Ponitka.
“This result should be an eye opener for everyone – Polish players are not valued in Europe as they should be. We have great leaders, we have big eggs and a big heart,” added Croatian I. Miličić, who has been coaching the team since last year.
Before that, the Poles defeated the hosts, Israel and the Netherlands in Group D in Prague (Czech Republic), losing to the Finns and Serbia and finishing third.
After a break of a quarter of a century, Poland, which made it to the top eight of the European Championship, will meet defending champion Slovenia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
We remind you that FIBA has suspended all Russian teams due to the war, so the national team of this country is not in the Old Continent championships either. Instead of the Russians, the Montenegrins who were the closest to the qualifiers were invited to the tournament.
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