Czech Republic Bounce Back

16 June 2013
Veronika Bortelová (Czech Republic)
Veronika Bortelová was too hot to handle for the Lithuanian backcourt 

By Joe Hewison

Turning Point: Veronika Bortelová banked in a three-pointer then followed it up with two strong drives to the basket to score seven straight points in a crucial 13-0 run in the second quarter.

Stats Don't Lie: Lithuania committed 30 turnovers and it is always going to be tough for any team to win a game when they give the ball away that often.

Game Hero: Center Ilona Burgrová scored 13 points and won the all-important battle in the paint against a Lithuanian frontcourt that impressed on day one.

Czech Republic Head Coach Lubor Blazek explained how an emergency players' meeting helped his team recover from losing Jana Vesela to injury and rebound to a 70-51 win that eliminated Lithuania.

Already without a host of experienced players heading into the tournament the young Czech squad struggled to come to terms with the loss of Vesela early in their opening game against Belarus.

But they cruised to victory against Lithuania on day two behind a scintillating second quarter sequence of 13 unanswered points.

Defence was key to the victory as the Czechs forced Lithuania into 30 turnovers but Blazek revealed that an impromptu meeting was required to help his team move on from losing one of its stars.

He said: "Today's game was very important for us because yesterday the offensive part of our team wasn't working well so we knew we had to win this game by playing defence and I am very happy that it worked out.

"We met yesterday after the game, which is something we normally don't do.

"We just had to talk through the situation as it is late to find out that Jana won't be available for the rest of the tournament.

"We discussed the troubles we had during yesterday's game. Jana's injury just knocked the team out of their rhythm from the first quarter yesterday especially because we are reforming the team and Jana is crucial to that.

"She is one of the most experienced players on our team so that's why the team collapsed in a few minutes.

"But on the other hand we knew it was something we had to move on from and I told them to forget about it and move on to tomorrow."

Petra Kulichová led all scorers with 15 but she was not the only one to step up as Veronika Bortelová also came up with several strong plays to lead the decisive run while Ilona Burgrová provided a strong presence inside.

Turnovers were the story of the day for Lithuania, who are now out of the tournament and will look to give more experience to their younger players in their final group game.




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