Before the face-off between NMC Górnik Zabrze and MMTS Kwidzyn, no one could tell who the favorite was. Both teams perform equally well and everyone expected a close game.
And that is exactly what happened. Both teams launched dangerous attacks, trying to breach the opponents’ defense. The visiting team only took the lead when Zabrze became too slow in their counterattacks. MMTS were close to scoring again, but the shot was stopped by Mateusz Kornecki – though he committed a foul while trying to keep possession of the ball for his team, and received a two-minute penalty. He was substituted by Martin Galia, who failed to stop the seven-meter throw, but later parried Kamil Krieger’s counterattack.
It was clear that Kwidzyn’s extremely strong defense was the main obstacle for the home team. The visiting team’s defensive play was fierce – and effective. Michał Adamuszek from Górnik tried to break the impasse, but finally, it was Marek Daćko who scored the equalizer, having received Iso Sluijters’s fantastic pass from behind. Moments later, the pivot received another pass from his Dutch teammate as he ran a counterattack. Yet another counterattack was successfully completed by Bartłomiej Tomczak. This was too much for coach Patryk Rombel, who slammed the timeout card down on the timekeeper’s desk.
Zabrze continued to score. MMTS seized their opportunities at the goal perimeter, but this was not enough. Even slow counterattacks by Zabrze proved successful. Replacing the goalie with a field player during 2-minute suspensions also turned out to be a bad tactic for MMTS. Both Michał Adamuszek and Iso Sluijters were able to score with long-distance shots.
After the 13th goal by Zabrze, their luck turned around. When the home team was five goals ahead, their opponents started playing a more sensible, slower, and more effective game. Five minutes before half-time, the uneventful streak was broken. Fantastic assists by Sluijters and Gliński allowed Aliaksandr Bushkov to set the score at 18-14.
The half-time break gave Kwidzyn time to regroup. Their defense became even tougher, with tight coverage during the home team’s counterattacks. This enabled, for example, the last-second interception from Tomczak. The subsequent series of missed passes and two-minute suspensions made it very difficult for Górnik. Despite their four- or five-goal cushion, the Zabrze players became tense. MMTS relentlessly took advantage, scoring three goals in a row from three different positions.
Mateusz Seroka and Michał Peret showed great form, quickly catching up with the home team and getting ahead. With the score 24-23 in the 46th minute, the game basically began anew. Zabrze regained their cool when Maciek Tokaj came on court. He passed the ball wisely to his teammates, and showed true warrior’s spirit, forcing his way towards the goal and scoring twice in a row.
Apart from their lack of effectiveness, Zabrze could also blame the score on bad luck – after Daćko and Tokaj’s shots, the ball bounced back from the goal line instead of going into the net. Finally, Mateusz Seroka equalized with his fourth goal in a row.
The final minutes seemed like a flashback from the previous match in Kwidzyn, where MMTS won thanks to their top form, effectiveness and perseverance. The same thing happened this time. Mateusz Seroka’s fantastic offensive play, the unbreakable middle defense, and Adrian Nogowski’s shot that set the score at 28-29 put an end to Górnik’s hopes. Zabrze had just 30 seconds left to score an equalizer. First, Iso Sluijter’s attempt was blocked by the defense. With just three seconds left on the clock, Marek Daćko resumed play by passing to Maciej Tokaj, but the shot went straight into the opponents’ hands. “You can tell by the coach’s voice how much effort this game took – he sure won’t be able to speak tomorrow,” said Adrian Nogowski from MMTS Kwidzyn right after the final whistle. “It took the whole team to win this game. We were five goals down, but we managed to turn the tables.”
Sasha Bushkov, the Górnik winger, could not hide his disappointment: “It is hard to tell right away why we lost. At the end we missed some 100% opportunities, we made mistakes, and I think we just ran out of juice,” he sighed. About their last attempt, he said: “I think we should have played into the wings more, but maybe we had too little time to organize the effort, include the seventh player, make a better choice. It’s not like we can blame anyone, though.”
Coach Ryszard Skutnik was more critical: “We played well for 35 minutes. Good counterattacks, tough defensive play. With a six goal lead, we started to make stupid mistakes. Despite the two timeouts and the substitutions, the team kept making rash decisions. They were supposed to take it slow and make a team effort, but they made these reckless single-handed attempts, and we could all see the outcome. When you play against an opponent like Kwidzyn, this just won’t do, they will seize all these opportunities. Alex was not much help today, he was too close to the defense line. But we can’t blame it all on him. Other, more experienced players made mistakes as well.”
NMC Górnik Zabrze – MMTS Kwidzyn 28:29 (18:14)
NMC Górnik: Galia, Kornecki – Niedośpial, Daćko 5, Tomczak 4, Kryński, Gromyko, Sluijters 5, Buszkow 4, Tatarincew 3, Gliński 1, Tokaj 2, Ścigaj 2, Adamuszek 2. Trener: Ryszard Skutnik
Penalties: 12 minutes (Kornecki, Tomczak, Sluijters, Gliński, Adamuszek 2).
MMTS: Szczecina, Kiepulski – Genda 2, Nawrocki, Krieger 1, Peret 4, Szpera 5, Szczepański 1, Rosiak, Nogowski 3, Kiepulski, Seroka 8, Potoczny 4. Trener: Patryk Rombel
Penalties: 10 minutes (Genda, Peret, Nogowski, Seroka, Potoczny)