The Lions wrote themselves the worst possible scenario in the opening game. After a setback to Poland and a very likely loss to Serbia, they will be without a win after two games and with a knife in their throats. “What are we going to talk about, it’s a big complication. Now we play against the biggest favorites of our group, the Serbs, and then we have three extremely important games. We have to prepare for them, because we can’t win with a hundred collected points per game,” says Ondřej Balvín, the tallest man in the Czech team, referring not only to the shooting flurry from Poland.
Martin Peterka: We played a completely even match with the Serbs
An advantage can be the fact that everyone writes them off before the match, even based on the form of the last weeks. “We have to keep our heads up, this happened to us last summer when qualifying for the Olympics. We lost the first game, then we were able to pick ourselves up and get out of it. But we have to show a different game,” says Balvín.
His words are complemented by his colleague – pivot Martin Peterka. “We are not playing very well, but we are trying. We are fighting and I think it will come. We will fight for the result with Serbia. We will at least make up for yesterday’s performance.”
On the other hand, the disadvantage is that there is not much time to analyze errors. Both matches are separated by exactly twenty-four hours. “Maybe it’s better that we play in quick succession. We have a lot of things to improve, but on the other hand, we don’t have time to think so much about the unsuccessful match against Poland. We have to tell each other what we did wrong, but there is no time for a big analysis,” notes Peterka.
They have nothing to lose
The proverb applies to today’s match: We have nothing to lose, only to gain. “I’m not saying we’re dropping the match with the Serbs, but we also respect how strong they are. We really can only surprise. We will try to stick to our motto: Fight like a lion. We were already able to play great basketball against bigger favorites and get to the end with them. I believe that it will be the same now and we will prepare ourselves for the next three extremely important matches,” wishes Balvín.
The Czechs have made the Serbs very uncomfortable for one match, when they were not favorites. In his last appearance at the WC in China. They lost to them only 81:90 in the match for fifth place. They led several times in the match. Also because Peterka made his first four three-point attempts through the basket. He almost did the same against Poland. He recorded three long-range shots out of four sent to the opponent’s hoop. “We lost, so I wasn’t happy. This is my job, if I play half a minute or twenty minutes, I will always go there and try to do my best for the team. I’d rather give zero points and win,” he repeats the well-known truth.
There is no reason to hang your heads. We have to find a balance, Krejčí knows. He had goosebumps upon boarding
Back in China, Bogdan Bogdanovič crushed the Czech Lions with his almost flawless shooting. However, his golden hand will not help the Serbs at EuroBasket. Even without him, the team around the mega-star Nikola Jokic easily coped with the Netherlands (100:76). The Serbians dominated under both baskets. “We will prepare the most for the rebounding battle, because I think it will be difficult there. And certainly on their main star, Jokic, through whom many attacks go. Let’s sit down to watch a video and come up with something. I think it will mainly be about us, how we will approach it, how willing we will be to communicate and defend. We definitely have to improve our defense,” Peterka is clear.
“It will sound a bit paradoxical, but we have to build precisely on defense. If we don’t defend, we can’t play our fast game that adorns us. It won’t be easy, but where else to start than with the biggest favorite in the group. We will have to play extremely hard, defend well and counterattack.”
Dress? Great help
The big question mark before the start of the European Championship was the ankle of the biggest Czech star and leader Tomáš Satoranský. Since the days of Jaromír Jágr’s little finger, probably the most watched body part of Czech athletes. Finally, he entered the game. He played just over seventeen minutes. He logically did not embark on big adventures, such as raids under the opponent’s basket.
“Saty is a heartthrob who tries to do as much as possible for the team. Every minute he played on the pitch helped. Although he didn’t score, he organized the game and gave out assists. He was important to us again,” Balvín does not spare superlatives.
“Saty is a great asset for us. We’re all glad he made it and is here with us. I hope that his ankle will improve and he will play even better as the tournament progresses. It looked like he wanted to play all the time and we would certainly love to have him on the board all the time. However, I think that the people around him are still in such a phase that they prefer to control it rather than overdo it,” reflects Peterka.
The return of the leader did not help. The Czechs fell. We disappointed, but we will bounce back, the coach believes
One thing is certain, the stress that the players felt in the domestic environment, despite the great experience with tough international battles, will fall from the hands of the Czechs. “There was definitely nervousness, but we just didn’t play well from the start. The Poles caught on and then it was difficult to stop. We did get back into the game, but then the same thing happened to us in the second half. They quickly bounced back from us and we were just catching up,” Peterka returns to the opening performance.
The spectators in the O2 arena, more precisely the Czech ones, because even the Poles knew how to heat up under the boiler, did not leave their team in the lurch. Especially in the moments when their darlings were catching up. “It was definitely important, I think it can help us a lot. A lot of spectators came, and in good moments, when we get fired up, they help us a lot,” recalls the player from Braunschweig, Germany.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. I think there has never been such a visit to men’s basketball in the Czech Republic. If I’m not mistaken, the Pardubice record was broken when we played against Russia. Thank you very much to the fans and I’m sorry. I promise them that we will keep fighting,” Balvín sends a message to the basketball nation.
The O2 arena will be sold out today. 12,500 fans will drive Bohemia.