Basketball. Israel – Poland. The defeat of the White and Reds in Israel. El. World Cup 2023

Nice and bad beginnings – this is how you can describe the inauguration of the term of office of the new coach of the White-Reds, Igor Milicic. The trainer born in Croatia replaced Mike Taylor, who has been working since 2014. The team, partially rejuvenated for reasons beyond the control of the coach, was not a favorite in Israel, and in the previous EuroBasket qualifying rounds it lost to this rival twice. Milicić announced that he wanted to compensate for the skill difference with an aggressive defense game, which would introduce chaos in the ranks of the rivals. And it was successful in the first quarter.

The Poles used numerous defensive traps, forced the Israelis to make losses and make difficult throws, and if the opponent was getting into the under-the-basket zone, the middle Aleksander Balcerowski was waiting there. Preparing for next year’s NBA draft, the 21-year-old had 6 blocks in the entire match. The guests were leading 19: 4 in the 8th minute, and they owed the advantage, inter alia, to the customs three of Jarosław Zyskowski, Tomasz Gielo and Michał Kolenda, who even made his debut in the top five. It was the biggest difference for the Poles in this match. From that moment on, the result looked only worse and it even happened that the Israelis were coming to the dressing room for a long break, leading 31:27. In the second quarter, the visitors scored only six points.

Their attack did not look much better in the following parts. The first quarterback Marcel Ponitka from Parma Perm and the 27-year-old, but previously without an important role in the team, Jakub Schenk, on average coped with creating offensive actions. The terrible efficiency of the circuit – 7/36 (19%) in the meeting did not help either. Jakub Garbacz, known as the supersniper from behind the curve, failed in this element. MVP of the last final of the Polish league, and currently the German basketball player Mitteldeutscher BC missed all twelve (!) Attempts for 3 points! In the 26th minute, after a good defensive part of the visitors, there was a draw 39:39, but then the Israelis scored 10 points in a row.

However, this was not the end of emotions. Less than five minutes before the end of the fourth quarter, Israel was leading 61:49 and it looked as though they would be able to seal the victory without any major perturbations. The Poles did not intend to give up and began to approach. Wsad Balcerowski, versus Zyskowski, three of Balcerowski, three of Michał Kolenda and the score of 63:61 appeared on the board in the last minute. The two free lead was increased by the quarterback Gal Mekel, who also had a Polish Israeli passport, and then Jake Cohen did not make a mistake after Schenk’s box from the basket on the free line. It became clear that there would be no surprises, although the Poles tried to answer. They did not hit even once, and you can wonder if in the ending the Garbacz who missed again and again should be throwing three times from a distance.

From among the three debutants in the Polish team, the most praise should be given to the aforementioned Kolenda, the older of the two brothers. The 24-year-old played better than Łukasz, who was two years younger, and he finished the match as Poland’s best scorer with 16 points. Jakub Karolak and Nizioł missed all the throws from the game in their debuts. From the group of the more experienced (although he is the youngest in the team) Balcerowski did the most good, who apart from “czap” also had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

Group B also includes Germany and Estonia, these teams are playing today in Nuremberg. On Sunday, November 28, Poland will take on Germany and Estonia will play against Israel at home. Three teams will advance to the second qualifying round with the results from the first. In the second round, there will be six teams in the group, three of which will go to the 2023 World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and Philippines.

At the previous world championship in 2019 in China, Poland advanced to the quarter-finals and finally took eighth place. Only Balcerowski and Dominik Olejniczak played in Israel at that time. Mateusz Ponitka will join his colleagues before the match with Germany due to the Euroleague game. The injuries excluded Michał Michalak and Michał Sokołowski, and Milicić resigned from, inter alia, AJ Slaughter and Aaron Cell. However, the team from Izrael could not play Deni Avdija, Tamir Blatt, Yovel Zoosman, Roman Sorkin and John DiBartolomeo from the NBA and Euroleague. But Euroleague Maccabi Tel Aviv has graciously handed over Jake Cohen and Yiftah Ziv to the squad.

Israel – Poland 69:61 (12:21, 19: 6, 18:12, 20:22)

Israel: Jake Cohen 11, Tomer Ginat 11 (11 coll.), Gal Mekel 11, Nimrod Levi 10, Guy Pnini 9 (5 as.), Yam Madar 8 (7 coll., 5 as.), Yiftah Ziv 4, Rafael Menco 3 , Idan Zalmanson 2, Itay Segev 0.

Poland: Michał Kolenda 16, Aleksander Balcerowski 11 (7 boxes, 6 boxes), Jakub Garbacz 10 (6 boxes), Marcel Ponitka 5 (5 boxes, 5 units), Jarosław Zyskowski 5, Dominik Olejniczak 4, Jakub Schenk 4 (5 coll., 5 as.), Tomasz Gielo 3, Łukasz Kolenda 3, Aleksander Dziewa 0, Jakub Karolak 0, Jakub Nizioł 0.

About David Martin

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

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