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Veteran Welsch A Key For Czechs

28 August 2012
EUROBASKET QUALIFIERS

9. Jiri Welsch (Czech Republic)
Old hand Jiri Welsch still has a lot of gas left in the tank, or at least enough to help the Czech Republic in their bid to return to the EuroBasket Final Round

Jiri Welsch has played at the highest level of the professional game, competing in the NBA, the Spanish ACB and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

Even when bothered by a groin injury, the 32-year-old can make timely contributions that swing the momentum of a contest.

The Czechs, trying to rejoin the upper echelon in Europe, got big contributions from 20-year-old Tomás Satoransky (16 points, five assists and six rebounds) and workhorse Petr Benda (14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) in Monday's 82-64 triumph over Turkey.

The 32-year-old Welsch's impact in the first half however, was equally important as the hosts seized the initiative in an important EuroBasket Qualification Round game.

Welsch sparked his team when they trailed 14-13 late in the first quarter.

First he fed Jakub Kudláček, who scored on a driving lay-up, for a 15-14 Czech advantage.

After Kerem Gönlüm put the visitors back in front with a shot down low, Kudláček turned provider and passed to Welsch, who scored on a drive.

Gönlüm buried a jumper and then split a pair of free-throws to give Turkey a 19-17 advantage with 1:06 to go in the frame.

Welsch went to the other end, caught a pass from Lubos Barton and sank a jump shot to knot the contest, and then hit a go-ahead jumper.

They led 21-19 going to the second quarter.

Welsch kept the pressure when play resumed, following a Benda dunk with another jumper for a 25-19 Czech lead.

The hosts had their noses in front to stay.

The 18-point win for the Czechs has given them a huge advantage against Turkey, should the sides finish with the same record and the Turks win the second encounter.

Italy are top of Group F at 4-0 followed by the Czechs (3-1), Turkey (2-2), Belarus (1-3) and Portugal (0-4).

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