Turning Point: Spain were poor offensively in the fourth quarter, but their solid defence forced the Czechs to go through a nine-minute long dry spell that only ended when there was just 3:11 left to play and the gap was 12 points, eliminating any thoughts of a Czech come-back.
Game Hero: Rudy Fernandez finished with a game-high 14 points and added eight rebounds. More importantly, he set the pace with five quick points in the opening quarter, Spain's best by far and also clipped the Czechs' wings in their dominant second quarter with a triple that restored a 5-point Spanish lead, 23-18, with 4:24 remaining for the half-time buzzer.
Stats Don't Lie: Spain took one shot per every 28.5 seconds during the frenetic first quarter, but it was their defensive display late in the game that did the job. The Czechs were denied their transition game, went 1-for-18 from the floor and committed six turnovers in the final frame.
|Rudy Fernandez was deserved of the pat on the back from Jose Calderon and coach Juan Orenga, leading his team's scoring with 14 points whilst adding eight rebounds|
Spain only gave up 9.75 points per quarter to the Czech Republic on Saturday to clinch a 60-39 victory and steer their EuroBasket Group C campaign back on the winning track.
The reigning European champions bounced back on Saturday at Celje Arena from their Day 2 loss to EuroBasket 2013 hosts Slovenia, but also enlightened further those embroiled in the debate over the true identity signs of this new-look Spain.
Yes, the defending champions can play fast, but up to a point.
"The way the Czechs play is very, very fast and in the first quarter we were sort of infected by that approach," Spain forward Pablo Aguilar said following the game.
"We have speed, but our true style of play is not that fast."
Spain matched and bested their opponents in the transition game in the opening period and came up with an 18-7 lead.
The Czechs, who were perhaps a little too respectful of their famed opponents during the first 10 minutes, provoked six Spanish turnovers and recovered possession on five occasions in the second quarter.
They run in the open court, started making their shots and reduced the gap to 20-18 on a Pavel Pumprla triple, the first in six Czech attempts, midway through the period.
But they only scored 21 points in the remaining 25 minutes and 46 seconds after that, as Spain increasingly denied them the fast break and forced them to look for their points in half-court possessions.
"I think we played a defence as good as on the first day [in the win against Croatia]," explained Aguilar.
"It's one of our characteristics, we are a team with the capacity to defend hard and play fast, and I think it's what we should be doing."
Fernandez and Ricky Rubio, who collected 10 points and dished out three assists, were the only players to score in double digits, while Spain entered the final three minutes of the clash with their offensive output stuck at 51 points.
"We know that this team has tremendous offensive potential so I don't think anyone should be worried," quipped Aguilar, brushing off the low-scoring display.
"I think that if we keep working it will come, it's a question of time, I am convinced."