By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After an admirable run on the group stage, Ukraine simply didn’t have any fuel left. On the contrary, Poland proved to be more solid and closed the game the right way, getting the 94-86 win and the tickets to the Eurobasket 2022 quarterfinals for the first time since 1997, where they will face Slovenia and Luka Doncic.
A.J. Slaughter with 24 points was the top scorer of the game and Mateusz Ponitka with 22 made things happen in the end.
After a close game, Poland entered the last five minutes leading by six (84-78). With the game on the line, Alex Len missed two free throws, and Ponitka made a crucial three (87-78) giving to Poland a solid advantage.
“Everybody contributed, everybody gave something for the team and I will speak about myself”, said Ponitka who spoke about his leaving Zenit St. Petersburg after the Russian invasion to Ukraine and staying in limbo until the end of the season.
“Six months ago, I was in a very dark place, nobody believe in us and now we are here”.
“We have the personality and the characters, we have big balls and big heart”, added coach Igor Milicic.
Ukraine managed to cut the lead to two (88-86) with one minute left after two free throws by Svi Mykhailiuk, but couldn’t get any closer with Mykhailiuk and Issuf Sanon missing crucial shots.
“We started slow, missed a lot of shots, did a lot of mistakes and I don’t know what happened in the end”, admitted Mykhailiuk.
“We lost because of our offense, not our defense”, added coach Ainars Bagatskis. “Poland punished our turnovers, plus we didn’t shoot well from the three-point line”.
Aleksander Balcerowski added 15 points for the winning side.
Mykhailiuk who pretty much carried Ukraine in the group stage had 12 points and eight rebounds but missed all his eight attempts for a three. Sanon kept Ukraine alive for most of the second half with 13 points and eight assists, while Vyacheslav Bobrov also scored 15.
“Today it was not a good example for us, but I have that our presence inspires our people”, concluded Mykhailiuk when asked about what this team means during the war with Russia.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL