From Jeff Taylor, PA International, Patras
The Czech Republic make their shots from all over the court - three pointers, fastbreak layups, free throws.
|Lucie Blahuskova scored 22 points in the Quarter-Final against Belgium|
But what makes this team maybe the finest in Europe, judging from their 98-62 quarter-final thrashing of Belgium, is their commitment on the court every second of every game.
No side is playing as hard as the Czechs, who have been tormenting opponents at the European Championships with their boundless energy on both offence and defence.
They marched through Group A unbeaten and are now just one victory away from a medal and a place in next year´s Olympics. They take on Poland next, with the winner advancing to the final.
Jan Bobrovsky´s troops harassed the Belgians into 31 turnovers. The Czech defence contested virtually every shot their opponents took.
"It is how we play with our clubs and this is how we have been playing this summer," Czech reserve Zuzana Klimesova told PA International after their victory.
"Our coach demands it. He has a group of players who want to win."
No player wanted it more than captain Hana Machova, who turned in one of the finest performances of these championships.
The Belgians made a late run at the end of the first half, capped by a Nene Deyaert three-pointer, to cut the Czechs´s advantage to nine at 45-36.
Sensing her side needed a lift, Machova came out after half-time and punctured Belgian hopes with a trio of shots from behind the three-point arc.
|The Czech team celebrating|
Game, set and match. After that, the Czechs refused to let the Belgians, who were playing extremely hard, back into the game.
Bobrovsky´s team went on to outscore them 31-15 in the quarter and lead 76-51.
For her part, Machova finished with 11 points in the period and totalled 25 for the game.
She was in such good form and accomplished so much - Machova led the defensive effort with five steals - that had Bobrovsky not sat her down at the end of the third and for all of the fourth, it´s hard to imagine that she would miss scoring 40.
Had she played just a little more, the Czechs would have hit the century mark with points.
"She´s our captain," Klimesova said. "She hasn´t let us down all tournament. She does the little things, what we need at the time. Today it was points."
The Czechs ended up shooting 30 of 56 (53%) from two-point range and eight of 18 (44%) from three-point range.
As a team, they came up with 18 steals.
Lucie Blahuskova added 22 points and eight rebounds for the winners.
Belgium were led by Ann Wauters´23 points and seven rebounds.