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Slaughter and Ponitka send Poland to first EuroBasket quarter final since 1997

Slaughter and Ponitka send Poland to first EuroBasket quarter final since 1997

A pair of tremendous outings from Mateusz Ponitka and AJ Slaughter sent Poland to the quarter finals of EuroBasket for the first time since 1997 as they overcame a brave outing from Issuf Sanon and Ukraine.

Ukraine had a problem and it hailed from Louisville, Kentucky. AJ Slaughter, Poland’s naturalised player, was off to an absolute tear in the early going with 11 points including 3/4 from deep in the first quarter as we got the “Slaughter on” version that had been huge for Poland in two of their three wins in the group phase.

Slaughter has been pure Jekyll and Hyde for Poland. His job is to score and score a lot. When he does, Poland tends to win. When he doesn’t, Poland tends to take a bath. Slaughter doesn’t have so-so days, as his stats show. He either is the man or he looks like a wasted passport. It must be awfully frustration for Polish fans to watch.

It couldn’t have been more stark here. When he sat late in the first, Ukraine rallied to cut the gap and then finally went ahead for the first time in the second until, of course, Slaughter returned. Two quick buckets and Poland were back on top.

Slaughter was inadvertently in a duel with a man he rarely saw on the floor. Trailing 14-10 with just over 4 minutes left in the opening quarter, Ainars Bagatskis unleashed his chaotic wonder as Issuf Sanon entered the game for the first time. Within a possession he had gotten to the line and throughout the day he proved to be the main source of hope for his side.

Sanon has been the mixer this Ukrainian cocktail needed throughout the tournament. He was the heart and soul of their win over Italy and managed to briefly school Giannis Antetokounmpo in the loss to Greece. When speaking to the media he has mixed humour with emotion, going from being like a sitcom pairing with Bagatskis to speaking from the heart to give love to the people of Ukraine.

A nice steal and quick long pass fed Ivan Tkachenko for a breakaway dunk. More speed, another big play, as he fed Ivan Dobrov for a three. 2 steals, 2 dimes, 2 assists was a fine opening stint from Sanon.

Issuf Sanon brought the chaotic spark Ukraine needed in the first half against Poland.

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It made for an unusual duel as Sanon and Slaughter were rarely contending directly one on one nor were they even on the floor that much at the same time in…

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