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Gortat's Quest to Help Poland Qualify for EuroBasket 2011

OrlandoMagic.com will blog about Marcin Gortat this month as he attempts to help Poland qualify for EuroBasket 2011. Poland will compete in eight games throughout August in Group C.



Poland Fails to Qualify
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 30, 2010

Marcin Gortat may not care that he was, by and large, one of the best, most dominant players during EuroBasket qualifying action in August. The Polish Machine averaged 18 points, nearly nine rebounds and more than two blocks per game for his country.

But, Gortat understands that his individual achievements are very immaterial after learning Poland did not qualify for EuroBasket 2011.

Poland suffered a devastating 70-67 defeat to Belgium on Sunday – allowing Georgia to eclipse the Poles in the standings and earn an automatic bid to next year’s competition. Poland finished Group C in fourth place.

It especially hurts that Poland controlled a four-point advantage with just over three minutes remaining in the game. But Belgium, which won the Group, battled back and eventually captured the lead for good when Christophe Beghin nailed a 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining.

Thomas Kelati led Poland with a game-high 20 points and Gortat chipped in with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

In addition to Belgium and Georgia, Montenegro, Great Britain and Israel also advanced to EuroBasket 2011. The remaining 10 teams that did not qualify will have one more opportunity to advance during another qualifying round next August. One team from that bunch will earn a bid to Lithuania.



Poland Bounces Back, Beats Bulgaria
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 24, 2010

Poland took a large step toward its goal of qualifying for EuroBasket 2011 on Monday.

Although the conclusion was much more taxing than desired, the Poles survived a late flurry from their opponent to secure a 75-71 triumph over Bulgaria. Poland and Belgium, as a result, are tied (11 points each) for first place in Group C. The Poles, however, have played one more game than Belgium.

Marcin Gortat, who arguably has been the competition’s most dominant player, registered a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Poland led by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter before Bulgaria stormed back to cut its deficit to one in the final minute.

Thomas Kelati, however, drained a critical 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to seal Poland’s fourth win of the competition.

“Today in Katowice we showed heart and we also fed off the fans here,” Kelati said. I have to say that we had great crowds at those four games in Poland.”

Maciej Lampe contributed 15 points and Lukasz Majewski scored 11 points.

Although it is not a guarantee that Poland will advance to EuroBasket 2011 with a win in its finale against Belgium, percentages are in its favor. The first place teams from each Group qualify and the two best second place teams also advance. Currently, all of the first and second place teams from each Group have at least 11 points.



Poland Suffers Devastating Loss
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 20, 2010

It was one of those games where the winners spend the night celebrating and rejoicing. For the losers, on the other hand, they are lucky if they can fall asleep that night.

Marcin Gortat had another splendid game with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but Poland dropped a heartbreaking 85-84 decision in overtime to Portugal on Friday in EuroBasket qualifying action.

David Gomes nailed a go-ahead free throw in one second left in the extra frame to secure Portugal’s first victory of the competition. Thomas Kelati had previously tied the game for Poland with two free throws with 20 seconds remaining.

Poland’s Dardan Berisha buried a game-tying buzzer-beating jumper at the end of the regulation to help his country overcome a seven-point deficit with 40 seconds remaining and six-point deficit with 25 ticks left.

"First of all congratulations to Portugal for the win and the great game they played," Poland Head Coach Igor Griszczuk. "Secondly, we started the game 'sleeping' because of the late [tip-off] time and we didn´t manage to get into the game and win."

Heshimu Kenyatta Evans, a New York native, led Portugal with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, while Miguel Miranda poured in 19 points.

Maciej Lampe and Lukasz Koszarek each racked up 19 points for Poland, which fell to 3-3 in qualifying action and remained tied for second place in Group C with Georgia.

Poland will look to seize control of sole possession of second place when it clashes with Bulgaria on Monday.



Poland Earns Revenge, Beats Georgia
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 18, 2010

It was a night of sweet revenge for Marcin Gortat and his country on Tuesday.

The Polish Hammer recorded 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots as Poland earned its second straight victory and improved to 3-2 in EuroBasket qualifying action with a 67-58 win over Georgia.

Poland avenged a loss it suffered in the opener on Aug. 2 against Georgia and moved into a tie for first place in Group C.

Maciej Lampe registered 14 points for Poland, which shot 55 percent from the field. Lukasz Koszarek added 13 points.

After racking up 26 points in a blowout triumph two weeks ago against Poland, Zaza Pachulia was limited to just eight points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor.

"We are happy because we knew it was one of the key games in this round,” Poland forward Filip Dylewicz said. “These two games we played in Lodz showed that we found our rhythm. We are satisfied with our team defense.”

Manuchar Markoishvili led Georgia with a game-high 19 points.

Poland will look for a sweep against Portugal when the two countries clash in a rematch on Friday. The last time they played on Aug. 5, Gortat poured in 19 points and 11 rebounds.



Gortat Flourishes, Poland Cruises
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 16, 2010

Some words that describe Marcin Gortat on Saturday: Outstanding, brilliant, dominant and menacing.

The Polish Machine erupted for 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the field and added seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots to catapult Poland (2-2) to a demolishing 93-73 triumph over previously unbeaten Belgium in EuroBasket qualifying action.

Even more dazzling for the Orlando Magic’s backup center, he carried out this effort in front of his hometown fans in Lodz, Poland.

Maciej Lampe contributed 24 points for Poland, which shot an astounding 73 percent from the field and went 7-of-19 from 3-point range. It also limited its opponent to just 33 percent shooting (12-of-36) from the floor.

“We used Gortat better than in previous games,” Lampe said regarding his teammate’s exceptional performance.

"I am delighted that Gortat had such a great game," he added. "This is good for him and I'm sure he really wanted a performance like this. We used his skill and I hope we can play like this again in the future."

Poland remained in the hunt to qualify for next year’s EuroBasket without two of its featured players. Krzysztof Szubarga was ruled out for the long-term with ruptured ligaments in his knee, while Adam Lapeta has a sprained ankle.

Tied for second place in the Group C division with Bulgaria, Poland will look to earn some retribution from a loss earlier this month when it clashes with Georgia on Tuesday. The game will also be played in Lodz -- making it another opportunity for Gortat to showcase his skills in front of the hometown faithful.

The first-place country from each group and the two best second-place teams will advance to EuroBasket 2011, which will take place in Lithuania next summer. The best six teams that don’t immediately qualify will get another opportunity to advance next August in another qualifying round.

Other countries that have flourished thus far in qualifying action include Great Britain (4-0), which is led by Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng, and Israel (3-1), which is guided by Sacramento Kings rising sensation Omri Casspi.



Gortat, Poland Fall to Bulgaria
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 8, 2010

Marcin Gortat collected 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks, but Poland couldn’t hold off a furious rally from Bulgaria on Sunday, falling 74-70 in EuroBasket qualifying action.

Poland (1-2) led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter before Bulgaria (2-0) charged forward with a 20-5 run.

Filip Videnov led all scorers with 26 points for Bulgaria, while Earl Calloway and Stefan Georgiev each contributed 12 points.

Maciej Lampe paced Poland with 18 points and Thomas Kelati registered 17 points.

Gortat and his countryman will get in a few days of practice time and rest before a contest against Belgium on Saturday.



Gortat Leads Poland Over Portugal
By Josh Cohen
Aug. 5, 2010

While most NBA players spend time on vacation with family and friends, participate in worldwide basketball camps and charity events and prepare for training camp by expending energy in the weight room, some are in still in serious competition on the hardwood.

Marcin Gortat, for example, is one of them.

Aside from his ultimate goal of helping the Orlando Magic capture their first NBA championship, the Polish Hammer is in the midst of trying to lead his home country to EuroBasket 2011.

After a disappointing opening qualifying game against Georgia on Monday, Poland rebounded to earn a convincing 86-64 triumph over Portugal on Thursday.

Gortat registered a game-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and added 11 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.

Maciej Lampe contributed 14 points with nine rebounds, while Thomas Kelati had 13 points, and Dardan Berisha and Lukasz Koszarek each collected 12.

Ten countries have already qualified for next year’s EuroBasket, which will take place in Lithuania. Six more will advance after this summer.

Poland will continue its quest to qualify when it clashes with Bulgaria in Group C action on Sunday.

Other NBA players participating in EuroBasket qualifying games include the Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli (Italy), the Kings’ Omri Casspi (Israel) , the Hawks’ Zaza Pachulia (Georgia) and the Bulls’ Luol Deng (Great Britain).

Later this month, the 2010 FIBA World Championships will begin in Turkey. The United States opens competition against Croatia on Aug. 28.