From the eleven-point deficit that hung over them at the end of the first half, the Czech basketball players rose to a euphoric victory. They defeated a strong Croatian team with three NBA players in Pardubice thanks to a great performance after the change of sides 95:83, in preparation for the Eurobasket in September they recorded their second win and dominated the domestic tournament.
There are more than two weeks until the start of the European Championship, but in the Czech Republic the crowd is already singing: Boys, thank you! Because of this, more than three thousand spectators in Pardubice escorted the Czech basketball player to the locker room.
Appropriately, after Friday’s defeat against the weaker Bulgaria (93:60), coach Ronen Ginzburg’s charges passed the first difficult test. Thanks to a good second half, they beat the mighty Croatia by 12 points and it was something to watch. Six Czech fighters scored double-digit points, the team collected 24 assists and the three-point shooting success rate increased to an excellent 46 percent (15 three-pointers in 32 attempts).
“It’s just preparation, but every win counts. The Croats are also complete and also one of our potential opponents for the EC round of 16. Every win like this boosts the mood, we have something to build on,” said Martin Peterka, the top Czech scorer with 18 points, with pleasure. The author of six triplets was in a good mood during his visit to Slovakia on Saturday, where he and his bride went to a friend’s wedding. “I congratulate the newlyweds Matúš and Verča. As you can see, it helped, so I will have to attend a wedding before every match,” he said laughing. And satisfied smiles played on the faces of all the Czech fighters.
Two teams that, due to their strength, were ranked by experts somewhere in the middle of the 24-strong starting field before the Eurobasket competed. Croatia came to Pardubice full of fire and with the biggest star – Bojan Bogdanović, who scored 18.1 points per game last season for the Utah Jazz, Dario Šarić from the powerful Phoenix, long shot Ivica Zubac from LA Clippers and another fighter with NBA experience, Mario Hezonja (currently in the service of Real Madrid).
First place in the Pardubice tournament was at stake, both teams swept Bulgaria in their opening matches. Czechs by 33 points, Croatians by 30.
The Czech team is missing two members of the basic rotation. Vít Krejčí has been given preventive leave, as he has bruised ribs from Friday’s clash with the Bulgarians. And pivot Ondřej Balvín attended his mother’s wedding.
It was an intense battle from the start. Tomáš Satoranský called on the fans in the center circle to create more hype, Croatian coach Damir Mulaomerovič received a technical foul in the third quarter for a controversial whistled pass. In the eighteenth minute, the Croatians led 39:28, but in 130 seconds, David Jelínek hit three three-pointers and put the Czechia within four points. “That was very important. In the dressing room we talked about what we need to improve and we started the second half better. Our defense was better, we were successful in attack, the three-pointers were falling, we were borrowing the ball . So a good performance against a strong opponent,” summed up Peterka.
The basketball players have a free day, on Tuesday they will meet in Prague, on Friday they will face home Germany in the tournament in Hamburg, and on Saturday Serbia or Italy.
Preparation of the basketball tournament in Pardubice:
Czechia – Croatia 95:83 (24:32, 39:43, 68:59)
Composition of the Czech Republic: J. Bohačík 15, Satoranský 10, Kyzlink 6, Veselý 3, Kříž – Peterka 18, Auda 11, Jelínek 11, Hruban 10, Sehnal 8, Karnik 3, Půlpán.
Most Croatia points: Smith 21, Hezonja 15, Matkovič 14.
Fouls: 24:22. Free throws: 18/8 – 23/17. Triple: 15:12. Rebounds: 32:35.