|27 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
By Paul Nilsen
|New focus: Katerina Elhotova and Czech Republic face Italy with qualification to the World Championship on the line|
Having suffered losses in their respective EuroBasket Women 2013 quarter-final ties, there is still plenty to inspire Italy and Czech Republic and not least the considerable lure of a potential pass for the FIBA World Championship for Women next year.
Last Time Out: Italy led for much of their game against Serbia, but fell to pieces in the final two minutes as their opponents finished with 11 of the last 12 points to progress to the last four of the tournament with an 85-79 win. Czech Republic overturned an early 17 point deficit against Spain but ended up still losing by 17 points in a 75-58 defeat.
Key Match Up: Veronika Bortelova is a veteran campaigner in the point guard position and will look to impose herself on Giulia Gatti and Francesca Dotto, who have been doing plenty of ball handling for the Italians.
Key Stat: Italy gave up a painful 19 offensive rebounds against Serbia in the last game and can't afford to be similarly lax again.
X-Factors: As in the wake of any major tournament disappointment, both teams face a combined physical and psychological challenge to pick themselves up. Italy were arguably dealt the biggest blow mentally after losing a close one, but Czech Republic had a later game. This contest has the slight whiff of a real dogfight about it and whilst it might not be pretty, there is certainly plenty riding on it.
From The Camps: "We could have conserved energy against Spain and focused on this game instead, because it is just as important for us. But, we do not know how to play without wanting to win and give everything. My young team is learning but I hope we can recover physically." Czech Republic head coach Lubor Blazek.
"We were up for most of the time (against Serbia), but they always stayed close and they won at the end. I still need to congratulate my team and we must recover quickly, because this is a very important game (against Czech Republic) and we have to show that we are a great team." Italian guard Giorgia Sottana.