The Czech Republic held off a resurgent French side in the second half to edge them out 70-61 and take third place at the U18 European Championship for Women.
Afterwards, Czech head coach Romana Ptackova expressed her delight at the team's performance and their ability to focus on the game after a tough loss to Russia in the semi-finals.
"We knew that in order to perform well in this game we had to forget what happened on Saturday (losing
their semi-final 62-60 against Russia) and the girls did just that," she explained.
|Diandra Tchatchouang led the way for France with 27 points and seven rebounds.|
"Michaela Stara had a great game and got us off to a great start in the third quarter. She then made key plays at the right time in the closing minutes."
"This is a very important result for the country and our basketball culture. It will be celebrated all over the country."
This was the Czechs' best result in this competition since they finished third in 2002.
Renata Brezinova had a team-high 16 points, Stara added 15 and Karolina Elhotova chipped in with 14 for the winning side. Diandra Tchatchouang had a game-high 27 points for France.
The Czech Republic were the quickest out of the gates as they took an 11-5 lead before France cut the deficit to two, 17-15, by the end of the first quarter.
But the pair of Elhotova and Brezinova were hitting from just about everywhere on the floor as they combined for 19 points and helped the Czechs re-established control as they stretched their advantage to 33-27 by half time.
And Romana Ptackova's girls looked to be headed for a certain win early in the second half when Stara scored 10 of their first 12 points for a 45-37 lead.
France though showed their resolve and used a 12-2 run to take a 49-47 lead with 3:25 left in the period. The run was sparked by the outside shooting of substitute Pauline Thizy, who hit two three-pointers, the second one putting Les Bleus in front.
Howevever, the Czechs answered with a run of their own, reeling off nine unanswered points to end the quarter with a 56-49 advantage.
Tchatchouang almost single-handedly kept France within striking distance in the first five minutes of the final quarter as they tied the game at 58 all with 6:14 left to play.
But Stara and Brezinova hit timely three-pointer thereafter to put the game out of reach.