Czech Republic 85 France 73

23 September 2003

Defending champions France are in danger of crashing out of the European Championships in the group stage after becoming the latest victims of the unbeaten Czech Republic.

The Czechs, knotted at 38-38 at half-time, exploded for 28 third quarter points to lead by 15 going into the fourth quarter and didn't allow Les Bleues back into the game.

The French must now regroup and get ready to play Greece, a side they will be looking to beat to assure themselves of a place in the last eight.

"The Czech team was superior in all aspects of the game," admitted French coach Alain Jardel. "I hope they go far in the competition because they have a magnificent team."

Jan Bobrovsky, the Czech coach, said: "We are excited. The French team are difficult to play. The third quarter was the difference and we played great defence and played fast-break basketball.

"In the fourth quarter we were able to protect our lead."

Audrey Sauret (FRA) and Romana Hamzova (CZE)
Bobrovsky is now officially in charge of one of the surprise teams this summer.

The Czech Republic have not been talked about like potential champions, although they were clearly deemed to be a good basketball team counted upon to make it past the group stage.

They have yet to lose in Group A, though.

"We're not thinking too far ahead," said Zuzana Klimezova. "We still have lots of games to play and one loss in the quarter-finals and you are out of the tournament."

No one has come close to beating them, even though they have been forced to go without centre Kamila Vodickova of the Seattle Storm.

She averaged 17 points and more than nine rebounds a game as the Czechs went unbeaten in qualifying.

Vodickova was hurt in the latter part of the WNBA season and wasn't able to take part in the championships.

Lucie Blahuskova, the player who has shouldered much of the scoring load with the absence of Vodickova, was sensational against the French with 22 points and eight rebounds. 

Cathy Melain and Audrey Sauret, the French co-captains, scored 19 points apiece.


26.09.2003 - From Jeff Taylor, PA International, Patras
26.09.2003 - PA International

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