Czechs Start Campaign With Win

02 September 2005

The Czech Republic went close at EuroBasket 2003 but settled for silver.

Now they look determined to finish the job after opening their 2005 campaign with a 65-45 destruction of France.

In what was supposed to be a battle of title contenders, the Czechs blew away Les Bleues in the fourth quarter.

France trailed by as many as nine points (26-17) in the second quarter and found themselves behind 29-22 at half-time.

But Alain Jardel's team battled, and closed to within one at 36-35 with one minute and 50 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Michaela Pavlickova buried a jump shot and Petra Kulichova added two baskets down low to stretch the lead to 42-35 at the end of the period and France caved in.

They cut the deficit to five, but then watched as the Czechs turned their game up a notch and rolled to a decisive victory.

Hana Machova provide much of the inspiration on offence in the first half when she scored all 14 of her points, and Eva Viteckova also finished with 14 to pace the Czechs.

Jana Vesela played her usual solid game, doing much of the dirty work by grabbing 10 rebounds to go with her six points. Kulichova also hauled down 10 boards. The tireless Czechs out-rebounded France 42-34.

The French had a nightmare shooting the ball, making an abysmal 25% of their shots. They were 14 of 56 (25%) inside the arc and two of eight (25%) beyond it.

Jardel's team even struggled at the free throw line, making just 11 of 18 (61%).

There is no longer any Lucie Blahushkova for the Czech Republic. She was their star and the MVP of the EuroBasket in Greece two years ago when Jan Bobrovsky's team went unbeaten before falling to Russia in the final.

But the Czech women, despite having their own shooting problems at times (21/58 2-point field goals) found the extra gear they needed to accelerate away from a French team that is hoping to rekindle the glory year of 2001 when they won the European crown as hosts.

Cathy Melain, a member of that team, led France with nine points and eight rebounds. There is much work to be done if France are to have a serious shot at glory this year.

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