It is Tuesday afternoon, 3:00 PM, time for the final pool match for both The Netherlands and Poland. A match review.
The game starts evenly. Both teams give their all. It quickly becomes clear that this will be an exciting match. Apart from the points scored, there is a lot of other fun to witness. For instance, the play of the Polish number 11, Mateusz Filipski, who after a beautiful two-pointer midway through the first quarter crosses half the court backwards. The Dutch team doesn’t let these actions, however entertaining, go unanswered. The men immediately go back on the attack.
It’s neck and neck. With two minutes left on the clock in quarter 1, the score is tied at 12-12. The Dutch player Quinten Zantinge disagrees and soon restores a two-point lead for his team. He’s on fire as he scores the next points as well.
This match is like a weighing scale
Filipski deftly maneuvers around the Dutch defense with the ball just before the end of the first quarter. This earns him cheers from the Polish fans. The Dutch fans cheer even louder after the first part of the match. Q1 concludes with a slight lead for the white shirts with orange print. The scoreboard reads 16 (NED) to 14 (POL).
As the players get ready for the rest of the match, all the attention from the supporters is focused on a young fan on the stands. He has a flag and waves it fervently. He’s noticed by the announcer, and the audience expresses their agreement with this young supporter.
The match continues. The tension is back immediately. Poland scores a quick two-pointer, leveling the score once again. There’s twisting, racing, and scoring. The point difference remains minimal. A fitting end to the group phase for both teams. The atmosphere in the stands keeps getting better. People love the suspense. Time-outs are used for some movement, as both Polish and Dutch fans enthusiastically join in when the Village People’s YMCA plays over the speakers.
Despite the competitiveness of both teams, there’s also room for some fun. The audience can enjoy a little exchange between the Polish number 11 and the Dutch number 1 during a free throw by the Polish team.
The second half
The second half of the match begins, and there’s the intensity is back immediately. Eight points are scored within two minutes. Two for Poland, the remaining six for the Dutch team. The long arms of Op den Orth (number 2 Netherlands) intercept a Polish pass.
A feint by Filipski brings the Polish team’s score a bit closer. They’re now only 3 points behind the Dutch. The fire is still burning. Op den Orth’s arms sometimes seem almost invisible in their speed. Midway through Q3, it’s 48 (NED) – 40 (POL).
The battles for the ball under the basket are fierce. Every opportunity is seized. The ball goes behind, sideways, and of course over the top. There’s slaloming, racing, colliding, intercepting, shouting, and scoring. In short, there’s a struggle. That’s evident from the score as well. With a score of 50-50, the teams leave the court after the third quarter.
The match continues, and the tension is palpable now. The audience falls silent at the most suspenseful moments and cheers louder than ever when the players need it. Poland scores the first points in the final quarter. With five more minutes to go Poland leads by one point, 57 (NED) – 58 (POL).
Right after Poland’s last two points, the Netherlands turns it around. There hasn’t been as much cheering in the entire match as there is for this two-pointer. During the ensuing time-out, part of the Dutch crowd sings and jumps from left… to right…
The Dutch men widen the gap and score one point after another. The Polish fans might be fewer in numbers than the Dutch supporters, but they are no less enthusiastic. Every point and every good defensive move is followed by loud cheers. It’s all or nothing for the Polish in the final two minutes, but they can’t succeed.
The Netherlands pool winner
The final whistle sounds. After an incredibly exciting match (73-61), the Dutch team leaves the court as the winners of the pool.