by Paul Nilsen
It was a case of third time lucky for Czech Republic as they finally managed to hang on to a half-time lead to wrap up a 57-54 win against Greece.
It could have been so different had they not blown a massive 20 point lead by allowing Greece to score the last 17 points of the game since a 10 point win would have definitely put them into the Qualifying Round.
Nevertheless, Czech Republic Assistant coach Zdenek Sykora was still preferring to focus on having at least finally won against a fellow Division A team.
"In the first two games we had a big lead but we did not manage to keep it and ended up losing."
"This time we almost lost the lead after a bad last few minutes of the game but this was still a big win for us."
"We have played a lot of games against good teams in tournaments recently but had not really got the wins and this shows a big improvement."
"If we get to the next round it will give the girls a lot of confidence for sure."
As the game opened, Greece continued where they left off from their overtime win against Hungary by rattling off the first 6 points of the game but then succumbed to gutsy Czechs, still looking for their first win
They scored seven straight points to go 10-6 ahead before then led by Tereza Vyoralova, they embarked on a 12-0 run either side of the first quarter break to move 22-9 in front.
Greece did then make a move to have the better of things as the half ended and were able to claw their way back at 28-20.
The Czech Republic continued their fine work early in the second half, getting off to a great start with Dominika Pohunkova sinking a trey as her team exploded into life.
The Czechs went on a stunning 13-1 run with some fine defensive work that resulted in a despairing Greek coach Dimitiris Bakogeourgeos to call a time-out with his team trailing 41-21.
Greece could not find a way to the basket and were stone cold from outside leaving them with a succession of tough looking jumpers which they couldn't make. Eventually an inside score by Spanou and a steal and lay up by Georgia Kantara got Greece going and a a nice burst of scoring was completed with a nice jump shot by Anastasia Slouka.
As the quarter drew to a conclusion, Greece continued their momentum and as the Czechs disintegrated offensively, much like in their previous two games, Greece were back into the game at 42-32 having held their opponents to jut four points in the period.
Czech nerves were then jangling within seconds as Kantara immediately reduced the deficit to single digits but three big plays of successive scores and a superb block by Michaela Vackova put them back in control.
By the time another Michaela, this time Vojtkova made a shot from downtown, it was all over at 56-37 - or at least that is what everyone in the Arena thought apart from Greece.
They almost snatched the most amazing win of the tournament inside the last three minutes as they staged their late comeback and put the Czech celebrations on hold.