Olympic Dreams On The Line

07.10.2007

By David Hein

Fifth-placed games don't usually have the biggest meaning, but Sunday's showdown at the 2007 EuroBasket Women between the yet-reigning champions Czech Republic and 1997 title-holders Lithuania still has loads of meaning.

The winner captures the final berth in the pre-qualification tournament for the 2008 Olympics.

Gintare Petronyte (Lithuania)
Young Gintare Petronyte may be key to Lithuania's chances.
The Czechs, who took silver in 2003 and gold in 2005, bounced back well from their disappointing and surprising quarter-final loss to Belarus to ease past Belgium.

Now Jan Bobrovsky's troops have to re-focus just one more time to avoid a serious let-down.

Lithuania have hardly looked over-powering at any point during the tournament, but Algirdas Paulauskas's side still managed to perform well-enough in each game that mattered, except their quarter-final loss to Russia.

Last Time Out: The Czech Republic eased past Belgium 75-50 while Lithuania beat France 67-65.

Key Match-Up: Eva Viteckova vs Lina Brazdeikyte- Viteckova got back on track against Belgium (14 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals) after struggling against Belarus. The Lithuanian captain meanwhile means so much to the Baltic attack.

X-Factor: Gintare Petronyte- The 18-year-old Lithuanian center was forced into duty against France after Iveta Marcauskaité fouled out. But Petronyte collected six points, two rebounds, one assist and three blocked shots in 17 minutes of action and Paulauskas may elect to use the youngster more against the big Czechs.

Key Stat: 26:23. That's the most minutes played by a Czech starter (Ivana Vecerova) in their comfortable win over Belgium. So Bobrovsky's troops will be well-rested against Lithuania, who had to fight to the final second against France.

Sounding Off: Czech forward Eva Viteckova: “I think the game against Lithuania will be a nervous one, both teams know what it's at stake. Our peformance in this tournament hasn't been very good but against Belgium we played very well.”


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