|30 August 2012|
|Lukasz Koszarek and Poland are travelling to Antwerp on Thursday determined to make up for the home loss to Belgium on day one of the Qualification Round |
It's not how your start, but how you finish.
That is the mantra of Poland's team as it tries to recover from two losses in their first four EuroBasket Qualification Round games.
Ales Pipan's side, coming off EuroBasket 2011 in which it nearly progressed from the opening group phase despite the absence of centers Marcin Gortat and Maciej Lampe, went into 2012 with high expectations as Gortat was once again available.
But the Poles crashed at home in their opening game to Belgium on 15 August, 64-57, and then one week later fell on their own court again, this time to Finland, 81-79.
Despite road victories at Switzerland (80-66) and Albania (105-67), Gortat and Co have their backs against the wall as they go into Thursday night's showdown in Antwerp against the Belgians.
They are in third place in Group E behind the unbeaten Finland (4-0) and second-place Belgium (3-1).
"We know how important this game is and how much it means to us," Pipan said.
"Everyone is mobilized and 100% focused on Thursday.
"We discussed the exact errors from the first meeting in the Ergo Arena, and they have no right to be repeated in Antwerp."
One area in which Poland struggled against Belgium was the boards.
Eddy Casteels' team out-rebounded the Poles, 42-31.
Guy Muya, Wen Mukubu and Maxime De Zeeuw had seven boards apiece for Belgium.
Christophe Beghin and Yannick Driesen came off the bench and pulled down five each, with 23-year-old center Driesen claiming his rebounds in just 11 minutes of action.
Poland were also inept from long range, hitting just one of 18 shots.
Everyone is hoping for a better result the second time around, including Poland basketball federation president Grzegorz Bachanski.
"It will be a very difficult encounter, but Ales Pipan's staff is acutely aware of this," Bachanski said.
"I hope the Polish national team will return with a third win in the Qualification Round."