EUROBASKET WOMEN 2011
|Emilie Gomis has carried France offensively in the last three games and she now averages 11.5 points on 42.3 per cent shooting from the floor|
France and the Czech Republic will battle for the bronze medal on Sunday at the EuroBasket Women in Poland
The French title defense came to an end on Friday night in a overtime setback to Turkey while in the other Semi-Final, the Czechs were blown away by Russia.
Reaching the podium would be the perfect tonic for the hangover that players and coaches on both sides are suffering from.
The teams have already met one pre-Championship aim this week.
By securing a top-five finish, the Czechs will not have to go through qualifying for the EuroBasket Women in two years.
Both France, who receive an automatic place for the EuroBasket Women 2013 as hosts, and Lubor Blazek's Czech team will also compete at next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.
The Czech Republic were no match for Russia, and afterward Blazek said: "We are ready to forget this game the minute we walk out of this arena.
"We are fighting for a medal on Sunday and we cannot forget this."
How important is a medal to the Czechs? They haven't claimed one at EuroBasket Women since 2005 when they edged Russia in the Final.
The Czech team did capture a silver medal less than a year ago in Karlovy Vary, however, when hosting the FIBA World Championship for Women.
France took gold medals as hosts of the EuroBasket Women 2001 and then again in 2009 when the Final Round was held in Riga, Latvia.
Head to Head: France beat the Czech Republic twice at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil, winning 62-58 and 79-78. In their last EuroBasket Women meeting six years ago in Turkey, the Czechs defeated France on opening day, 65-45.
Last Time Out: Russia bounced the Czechs, 85-53, and Turkey scraped a 68-62 overtime triumph against France.
Key Match-Up: In her last three games, France shooting guard Emilie Gomis has scored 15, 14 and 24 points, respectively. Her opposite with the Czechs, Katerina Elhotova, hasn't been as potent for the Czechs in their last two games but must at least help her team with solid defense against three-point shooting and penetrating Gomis.
Key Stat: Petra Kulichova has found her rhythm on offense the past two games for the Czechs, making 11 of 20 shots from the floor - including an impressive five of seven against a tall Russian frontline. Since pouring in 16 points against Spain and 21 against Montenegro on a combined 15 of 21 effort from the field, France power forward Endene Miyem has shot four of 13 in a three-game stretch against Poland, Lithuania and Turkey.
X-Factor: France center Isabelle Yacoubou-Dehoui dominated the interior against Lithuania but was a non-factor against Turkey.
Sounding Off: "It´s a tough defeat (to Turkey) but we must put this behind us and focus on Sunday´s game. We want to get a medal and we will do all we can to go home with bronze," says France's Edwige Lawson-Wade.