|Captain Petr Benda was forced to leave the EuroBasket ship due to ongoing injury problems |
The Czech Republic are considered by many as the outsiders in EuroBasket 2013 Group C, but coach Pavel Budinsky was satisfied to have all eligible players at his disposal, from young stars Jan Vesely and Tomas Satoransky to old-timers Jiri Welsch and Lubos Barton.
Now however the Czechs might be about to join the list of EuroBasket-bound teams that have suffered the blow of losing a key player to injury, as captain Petr Benda is very doubtful to play in the big event in Slovenia.
The 31-year-old center had picked up an injury last February, while in action with Czech champions Nymburk.
He finished the club season playing through the pain and undergoing conservative therapy, and was hoping to join the national team in preparations with the start of the second stage, on Wednesday.
Benda however went through three individual practice sessions at training camp under the supervision of physiotherapists, and the medical team of the Czech federation (CBF) decided on Friday that his body cannot yet withstand the intensity of practising with the rest of the team.
Budinksy has had to release him from the next stage of traning camp, and it seems unlikely that the veteran will return to full fitness before the EuroBasket, although no replacement will be called.
"I am disappointed that I cannot complete preparations for the EuroBasket together with the team," Benda said.
"My current state of health does not allow it, so we decided to end my participation in the summer activities with the national team."
Benda has been a linchpin of the Czech national team in recent years, averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in last summer's Qualification Round to help them secure a place at September's EuroBasket.
"The situation around Petr is very uncomfortable for us, for two reasons," explained Budinksy.
"First of all, he has been our captain and clearly one of the key players on this team for some time.
"Secondly, Petr's performances and general attitude in a Czech jersey have always been exemplary.
"At the moment, unfortunately, by mutual agreement he has been released from the team and he will try as soon as possible to treat his health problems.
OPTIMISTIC GORTAT PUTS FEARS TO REST
|Marcin Gortat has high expectations at EuroBasket, despite his interrupted training camp|
Marcin Gortat, who left the Polish training camp on Thursday to fly back to the USA for treatment, has not only dispersed fears surrounding his return but has also given an optimistic view on Poland's chances at EuroBasket 2013.
"I told my colleagues on the national team, that this is not not a holiday trip," the 29-year-old center explained.
"I'm going there [to the USA] to train normally, but also to meet with the physio-therapists of the Phoenix Suns.
"It was a serious injury and it has been slow to heal.
"The worst thing is that I cannot rest, especially at a time when I know I should train hard.
"I realize that sometimes you have to give the leg some rest, and I'm running in the gym, on the floor, doing more exercise and even prolong my workouts.
Gortat had suffered a foot injury while playing for the Suns in March, shortly before the end of the NBA regular season.
He said that most likely he will re-join the team by 19 August, contrary to rumours that he will stay in the USA until the end of August.
"I care about being with the group, we have an excellent atmosphere and everything around it is well organised.
"To me, [the national team] feels like a family.
"We have created a harmonious group, we are having fun together, like when we all went to watch the Barcelona match (a football friendly between Lechia Gdansk and FC Barcelona, where Gortat had the chance to meet stars Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta).
"That's why I want to return as soon as possible to help the team, because we have a great chance to succeed in Slovenia.
According to the Polish big man, the national team could even achieve something very big at EuroBasket 2013.
"It is known that we would like to bring a medal," Gortat said.
"Nobody goes to a EuroBasket to lose, and we have huge potential.
"Some other teams there will be weakened, so our chances are even greater.
"But I repeat: Let us approach everything with a cool head, let us play with calm and take it game by game."