Basketball harpagans team. “We want to cause chaos”

We quote the younger of the Ponitek brothers at the beginning, because among fifteen players in Warsaw preparing for the away match against Israel on Thursday, he seems to be the epitome of the style of play that the new coach wants to impose. The 24-year-old Russian Parma Basket player is a well-built, 192 cm tall playmaker with fire in his eyes and an enormous willingness to play aggressively on the defensive.

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– But everyone in this team is able to play in defense as coach Milicić wants – emphasizes Ponitka. – We drive ourselves with this aggressiveness, it is visible from the first to the last minutes of training. Obviously, there is a lot to be done and improved, but we can see that we can do a lot with defense alone. This will be the key to success for this refreshed team. To kill everything good about the opponent with this aggressiveness and make your own advantage.

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What’s with this chaos?

On Tuesday, the second day of the short training camp, it was clear that the basketball players were buying the vision of Igor Milicic, who presented it in detail in an interview with The representatives know very well that this is the very beginning of a longer team building process, but their enthusiasm is visible.

– It’s great. The atmosphere is great, but there is also a lot of competition. There is chaos in training, but this is exactly what we want to bring to the matches. Everything is going in the right direction – says Milicić.

What’s with this desirable chaos? – Chaos is our defense – explains the selector. – Destruction of the opponent in all respects. Defense, chest to chest, because we will be very close to our opponents in their positional attack. Wall defensive, i.e. placing a wall in front of the player with the ball, when the opponent will quickly attack. High and aggressive playing on the curtains. It all adds up to the chaos we want to cause our opponents. “Chaos” is also a term we call one of our licks – says Milicić.

The basketball players specify: – It’s true, the coach openly tells us that we have to introduce chaos in the opponent’s attack. We have different variants, different types of defense, with which we want to surprise – says Tomasz Gielo, the winger only 27 years old, but already with the longest service in the team that will play against Israel. – In the trainings so far, the ferocity and activity are at such a high level that perhaps it introduces some chaos in our attack. But take it easy, each training helps us, we get acclimated, we gain self-confidence.

– We have the predisposition to, excuse me, crap on the pitch and leave my heart on it – adds Ponitka. – And from this chaos a lot of good can be born. But this is to be chaos in control, aggressiveness at every moment of the game.

The chaos caused in the rivals’ game is also the response of the Polish national team to the specifics of the qualifiers, in which each team has little time to prepare, and the squads vary from window to window and are determined by the schedule of Euroleague or NBA games. Teams are less harmonious, Poles want to take advantage of it.

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Only two players from the World Cup

Watching the national team on the day before the start of the World Cup qualifiers is an interesting, new impression. The line-up, which trains in Warsaw under the watchful eye of Milicic, includes only two participants of the world championship in China. The tournament, in which the Poles won the first four matches and finally took an unexpectedly good eighth place, took place only two years ago: on the one hand, it was the pinnacle of the team led by Mike Taylor, on the other – today it can be seen – the beginning of its end.

The American coach is no longer in the team (PZKosz has ended his cooperation), the captain of the world championship Adam Waczyński (he resigned from appearing in the national team), Łukasz Koszarek (became the sports director of the team), Aaron Cel, Adam Hrycaniuk, Damian Kulig, AJ Slaughter (no appointment from Milicic), as well as the now absent Karol Gruszecki and Kamil Łączyński.

In addition, due to a face injury, Michał Sokołowski fell out for the matches with Israel and Germany, and Mateusz Ponitka will join the national team only before this second match – the Euroleague is still in conflict with FIBA ​​and does not adjust the tournament calendar to the elimination windows. On November 25, on the day of the match against Israel, Ponitka plays with Zenit Saint Petersburg away match against Panathinaikos Athens.

To end this counting – there are only two players in the Milicic team who played at the world championships two years ago: Aleksander Balcerowski and Dominik Olejniczak. It is new and fresh in many respects. Will the results follow immediately? The coach and players – some of them with experiences from strong European leagues – hope so. But they also mention that they are only at the beginning of the road.

The task is one – two victories

Thursday’s match in Israel will be difficult, because somehow it happens that for the Polish national team it has been an uncomfortable rival for several years. How will the new team fare against him? – I believe that we will surprise Israel with our physicality, but I do not know how we will implement tactical assumptions in such a hot atmosphere that we expect to feel in Israel – admits Milicić. – I do not know how this young, new team will react to the full hall and strong cheering. But we will try to use it as a stimulus and additional motivation.

– When it comes to tactics, we introduce as much as we can. A lot for two days, but not much compared to what you would like and what is necessary for full functioning. But we didn’t want to overload the players’ heads – adds the coach.

When asked about the lack of leaders, elders, as Mateusz Ponitka and Michał Sokołowski himself put it, he admits. – She’s not here. Tomek Gielo, Jarek Zyskowski, Olek Balcerowski and Dominik Olejniczak have already played in the team, but so far they have not had such large roles to feel responsible. Now each of them will have it. But anyone can jump into the top five. There are no divided roles, it is supposed to be a team – announces Milicić.

Defensive deadlines dominated in the discussions after Tuesday’s training, but we also asked about the other end of the pitch, about the offensive. – As for the strengths in the attack, there is nothing to talk about at the moment – admits Ponitka. – Of course, we have an offensive tactic prepared, it is simplified because we do not have much time. We understand the assumptions of the system, we know how to behave. The most important thing is to play it all with your head, heart, attention to detail, what the coach expects. This, coupled with the physical, can give us an advantage. We have to be one and play for victory. Point and mental leaders, those who shake the team at the important moment, will change.

– Pressure on the band? It appears when you are not prepared – emphasizes Gielo. – And we will be prepared for the upcoming meetings and we know that we have a chance, we feel it. Sure, they all give this new team time to start, but we’re only here to win games against Israel and Germany. Sure, we may have bad times, but there will also be better moments. The task is one – two wins – ends the team winger.

About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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