by Paul Nilsen
Czech Republic coach Richard Fousek was left reeling from a second straight loss in the tournament after his team were blown out in the second half against a rampant Russia team who maintained their unbeaten record with a 65-40 victory.
It was certainly a game of two distinct halves with Czech Republic holding an 8 point lead at the half-time interval and good value for their lead until in the second half, Russia really stepped up their game, and crucially changed their defensive strategy.
In the blink of an eye, Russia not only overhauled the Czech Republic but destroyed their confidence with a superb active zone that shut down the offence almost completely much to the disappointment of Coach Fousek.
"We struggled badly to adjust to the defensive changes made by Russia for the second half. They played a strong zone and for some reason our players could not cope with this."
"It was difficult because we had looked okay in the first half but our confidence was quickly lost and Russia were too strong for us."
Still searching for a first win, the coach will no have to pick up his deflated team for their final group game which Fousek believes is possible.
"We have to now think about playing Greece tomorrow an it will be another difficult game for us as they are a good team."
"However we at least have this experience to learn from"
It was a case of deja-vous for Russia in the first quarter as they again struggled to get into any kind of early scoring rhythm, mirroring their early difficulties against Greece. They did manage to record one more point but still failed to make double digits as Czech Republic produced fantastic first period to lead 20-9 having finished strongly with an 8-2 run.
Having been in similar trouble against Greece and having pulled out a win, you expected that Russia would come storming back into the contest in the second quarter but they just couldn't find a decent run despite 9 points from Ksenia Tikhonenko. That was also partly due to some poor three-point shooting, something that the Czech Republic were also guilty of, both teams stuck on zero after jacking up 14 attempts between them.
At least the Czech Republic managed to hold a 29-21 lead going into the locker room and taking into account their opening day loss, Coach Fousek will have been happy but mindful and no doubt warning his players of the ability of Russia to overturn the eight point deficit.
With a change of defensive strategy, Russia turned the game on its head in spectacular fashion and looked a different team - unfortunately for Czech Republic, they also looked different - much worse.
Russia restricted Czech Republic to just 11 points in the entire second half and used that defensive platform to fire up their offence. Mariya-Margarita Davydova and Ksenia Tikhonenko both claimed 13 points in the game.
For Czech Republic, they will need to think about how to break down a good zone defence, their one solitary three-point success from 19 attempts telling the story of their second half woes. Tereza Vyoraloa did at least find some success to add 13 points to her name.