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Czech Republic: Czudek Facing Fitness Race

07 September 2004

Czech Republic playmaker Petr Czudek is hopeful he will have recovered from a hip injury in time for his country's opening European Championship qualifier against Poland on Wednesday.

Michal Jezdik's team won their last friendly against Portugal without Czudek, but the 32-year-old is aiming to be back on Wednesday.

"I feel an inner power of our team. I have a good feeling. My injury is not serious. I hope that I will be fit for the game against Poland," he told www.basket.idnes.cz.

"I can work in training but I cannot have contact with an opponent. My hip hurts and it is not possible to cure it by any injections."

The Czechs enjoyed a free day on Monday and Czudek reckons a decision will be made on Tuesday as to whether he will be passed fit for the Poland match.

"It is hard to say. We have a free day today (Monday) and everything should be clear in training tomorrow in Nymburk.

"I feel better and better every day but I need luck as well. I will not play when I am only 50% fit."

Lubos Barton and Jiri Zidek will definitely be absent on Wednesday due to injuries and Czudek is well aware his team can ill-afford to lose his services too.

"That is true. A loss of every quality player is a minus for our team."

Jiri Weisch is also missing as he is preparing with Boston for another NBA season.

Czudek added: "We will miss him for sure, but I will not talk about it. We are simply a team without stars.

"It is possible that this situation will help us in the end. I can feel a power of this team and we have to concentrate on a good team performance.

"Nobody will be a star and there is a good spirit in the team because of that."

The Czechs are in qualifying Group D along with France, Slovenia and Poland.

"We will play six games in three weeks and then everything will be clear.

"The first game is always important. We will concentrate on Poland in training tomorrow and we will try to find something against them.

"We want to surprise them on Wednesday and we want to win. This team is strong and knows what it wants."

But Czudek is not expecting an easy match against Poland.

He warned: "Poland are considered an outsider of our group but I do not agree. They have a very good playmaker - naturalised American Eric Elliot.

"There are two players from the NBA in their list of players, so they should be good despite not having played a lot in this competition.

"I think that we can win - it's a case of good defence against their key players.

"But there is no question that Slovenia are the favourites in our group."

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