The Spanish basketball team, already with a ticket for the 2022 European Championship in their possession, sweated to stop an excellent AJ Slaughter (27 points) and finished beating Poland by a tight 88-89 On a fifth matchday of the qualifying phase in which Jonathan Barreiro (24) and Dario Brizuela (21) stood out.
Poland, also mathematically classified for the next European Championship after Israel’s victory over Romania (79-71), demonstrated the strength of a group that retains a jewel in its ranks, AJ Slaughter. The Herbalife Gran Canaria player gave another basketball recital at the Gliwice Arena.
The equality was the dominant tonic of the whole party. The duel got off to a frenzy. Mihalak and Brizuela opened the scoring from the line of three in the first two actions of the clash, which served as a prelude to what was the first quarter.
The two teams forgot to defend. An imperial Slaughter easily outwitted the fragile defense of Sergio Scariolo’s men, who, at the hands of the Unicaja guard, attacked the rival defense with fleeting transitions (26-27, min 10).
In the second section the script changed radically. Both teams increased the defensive intensity. Spain closed its interior corridors and the Poles, more concentrated in the retreats, controlled the counterattacks of the Spanish. When the party was more stuck, Sergio García scored a triple, which Slaughter immediately responded with another touchdown from the same position. Barreiro, with a triple on the horn, prevented Poland from going into the break with an advantage on the scoreboard (43-43, min 20).
Spain came out completely clueless after the break. Two concessions in attack, which meant four local points, forced the Italian coach to request a timeout. The pause worked. The current world champions improved their defensive balance to regain the pulse of the game. Poland was entrusted to their star, who did not give respite to the visiting defense, while Spain showed greater consistency through a good choral game.
The Spanish managed to reach the final stretch with an advantage thanks to a powerful outside game by Ferrán Bassas and above all, by a Barreiro who, well assisted by the debutant Fran Guerra, emerged as the main offensive stiletto of Scariolo’s men. His stats were staggering. He converted 100% of his threes (4/4) as well as free throws (4/4) and 80% in the paint (4/5).
The last quarter was pure basketball. Spain got the highest income of the party (7) and Scariolo designed a strong individual marking on Slaughter, but it was sterile. The Polish national team turned the tables and got ahead. The rest, pure spectacle. With 17 seconds to go, Brizuela scored a triple that seemed to put the visitors’ victory on track, but Michalak responded just two seconds later from the perimeter as well. Finally, Fran Guerra, from the free kick zone, certified the third triumph for Scariolo’s men in this qualifying phase.
On Sunday Spain will close this last window of the qualifying phase facing the Israeli team, leader of the group.
88-Poland (27 + 16 + 22 + 23): Balcerowski (7), Cel (2), Michalak (10), AJ Slaughter (27) y Sokolowski (9) – cinco inicial-, Dziewa (2), Olejniczak (2), Ponitka (11), Hrycaniuk (4) , Waczynski (11) and Koszarek (3).
89-Spain (26 + 17 + 27 + 19): Jonathan Barreiro (24), Ferrán Bassas (11), Darío Brizuela (21), Rubén Guerrero (2), Xabi López-Arostegui (13) -starting five- Arteaga (-), Fernández (4), García (3) , Guerra (4), Parra (4), Pauli (1), Salvo (2).
Referees: Aleksandar Glisic (Serbia), Zdravko RUtesic (Montenegro) and Andris Aunkrogers (Latvia). No eliminations.
Incidents: Match corresponding to the fifth day of the qualifying phase for the 2022 European Championship played at the Arena Gliwice (Poland).
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.