The Czech Republic won for the second consecutive game in the EuroBasket Relegation Round with a 71-64 home triumph over Ukraine on Tuesday night.
Petr Benda came up big with 20 points and six rebounds as the Czechs improved to 2-1 and dropped Ukraine to 1-2.
Benda and Co set the tone from the off by scoring 12 of the game's first 14 points and they went in front 32-16 nearly four minutes into the second quarter.
But instead of pulling away, Michal Jezdik's team allowed the Ukrainians to claw their way back and knot the contest at 45-45 with 3:36 to go in the third quarter on a basket from Oleg Saltovets.
Ukraine had the wind in their sails and took a 47-45 advantage after a basket from Oleksandr Kolchenko.
Benda responded by hitting back-to-back jump shots for the Czechs, who led for the remainder of the game.
They went in front by 13 points in the fourth quarter before settling for a seven-point win.
Kolchenko had 22 points to lead all scorers.
Valentyn Melnychuk, Ukraine head coach:
"Congratulations to coach Jezdik and the Czech team. I thought the biggest difference today was organization and execution of the game plan by our opponent. We don't have players who get substantial playing time with their clubs during the season and it showed. We are also lacking continuity - only three players from last year's squad are here today. The Relegation Round series is tough especially mentally with two teams on the brink and that adds extra pressure on our inexperienced squad."
Oleg Saltovets, Ukraine player:
"Our coach has said the whole story. I personally believe that if all our players had the same will to win as the Czechs we would make a much better result today in Prague. It does not matter how many minutes you get from the coach - we must all give everything to have a chance to win."
Ladislav Sokolovsky, Czech republic captain:
"This game seemed very similar to most of our previous games. We went up early but lost a nice lead because of mistakes. Fortunately we managed to get back in the game with good play in the beginning of the fourth quarter when we used a quick run to go up by 10 points. The most important aspect of our game today was again our will to win. Our team needs to play with 100 percent concentration every minute of the game or we give up a lead that we worked hard for."
Michal Jezdik, Czech Republic head coach:
"A lot was said today about our good play in the opening minutes of the game. Yes, I think these minutes were very important for our self confidence. As expected we had many ups and downs in the game. Most important is the fact that we always find a way to come out of our slump. I believe that this group of players is very tough mentally and this gives them an edge. Rebounding, fast break and effort on defense were three key aspects for our side today. We are taking games one at a time, not making any predictions, just concentrating on next opponent that is ahead of us."