By Yarone Arbel
The Czech Republic, who aim to repeat as EuroBasket champions, are on the right track.
For now they have won first place in Group A of the preliminary round after another one-sided win, this time 70-44 over Latvia on Wednesday day in Vasto.
The Czech Republic finished the group on top with a perfect 3-0 record, their closest margin was a 24 point win over Turkey.
Latvia finished second with a 2-1 record, but will carry the win over Turkey to the next round.
|Jekabsone-Zogota was a bright spot for Latvia, finishing with 17 points and five assists.|
For one half Latvia was still giving a fight, but once the Czech locomotive started its run, there was not much to do at the other end.
"This was our best game," said coach Jan Bobrovsky of the Czech side. "We kept Latvia on 44 points and that's an example for the good defense we played today."
"In the second half we played quicker. Pushed the ball for the fast breaks and took better shots."
Four players scored in double-digits for the Czech team. Eva Viteckova led the way with 12 points, Petra Kulichova and Jana Vesela both had 11 points and seven rebounds while Michala Hartigova scored 10.
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota had a total of 17 points while Liene Jansone scored 13.
The Czechs were up from the very beginning, starting with an 11-4 lead after four minutes.
After Latvia tied the game with a 7-0 run, the champs combined four in a row to finish the first quarter up 15-11.
Vesela and Viteckova made the first double-digit lead in the game, 23-13, which later was extended to 16, but Latvia didn't give up yet.
Jekabsone-Zogota collected 12 points to make it 37-29 one minute inside the third quarter, but that's when the Czech blitz started.
Latvia tried any trick in the book to collect points, but failed time after time, while the Czechs hardly missed, controlled the rebounds and finished their run only when the game was decided.
With five minutes to play Latvia was 62-33 behind, after a 25-4 run by their opponents.
Both teams qualified to Group E where they'll meet Belgium, Germany and Lithuania to fight for a quarter-finals spot.
Czech will face Germany on Friday while Latvia will take on Lithuania.