Peterka Sets Quarters As Next Czech Target

12 July 2015

14. Martin Peterka (Czech Republic)
Martin Peterka: "We want to get as high as possible, and to do that we need to go to the quarter-finals."

Nothing seemed to be working for the Czech Republic until late in the first half of their clash with Russia, their final game in First Round Group C action at the U20 European Championship.

The Czechs trailed by as many as 14 points, gave up easy points at the back, appeared disjointed going forward.

But when they returned to the court for the second half, they looked like a completely different team.

Or, as the Czech team's leading scorer and rebounder in this tournament puts it, they just looked like themselves.

"We didn't play the defence we had planned before the game but at half-time we said we had to stay calm and start playing our game," Martin Peterka told

"At the beginning of the second half we started playing defence, we started helping each other and we played as we wanted."

It looked as easy as just having to flip a switch, but it wasn't.

Czech Republic were reaping the benefits of a long-term commitment to the national team programme, which begins with the core of this team dedicating every summer to playing for their country since they were 15.

"Exactly, we have been playing together on the national team for five years with guys like [Radovan] Kouril, [Adam] Pechacek, [Jiri] Soula and we know what to expect from each other," Peterka said.

"It's good for me to play with guys that I know so well, and the game was decided by our defence and our effort.

"We suffer when we are slow, we want to run the fast break, that is our game."

The Czech Republic had staved off relegation to Division B just at the nick of time in the past editions of the competition.

Before arriving to Italy for the 2015 tournament, Peterka and his team-mates set as their primary target to not be involved in such a nerve-wrecking scenario again.

4. Radovan Kouril (Czech Republic)
Point guard Radovan Kouril has been feeding Peterka with assists since 2010

"This year we wanted to move away from the relegation group and get the chance to play for the best result we can reach," Peterka said.

"Last year proved very tough for us, we were young and we had to play until the last moment just to avoid relegation.

"We wanted to do the maximum this year to avoid this situation."

"I believed that we would get through this group [Group C].

"I was quite surprised by the performances of Ukraine, I think they played really well.

"We knew Spain would be tough and we didn't play well against them, but after we lost the first game against them we still believed we would qualify."

Do not assume that the Czechs, who advanced to the Second Round on a 3-1 record, have now fulfilled their goal and might as well pack and go home.

"Absolutely not," Peterka said.

"It will be really hard [in the Second Round] against Germany, Lithuania and Turkey and it will be difficult to finish above two other teams and make the quarter-finals.

"But we will do everything to achieve it.

"We want to get as high as possible, and to do that we need to go to the quarter-finals.

"Now that we have achieved our first goal, we will enjoy it more."

Peterka knows what it feels like to enjoy a great run with the national team.

The desire to re-live a similar experience alongside the same group of players, is possibly the most ideal motivation a player and a team can have.

"My best moment was in the U16 European Championship in Czech Republic, in 2011," he recalls.

"We took the silver medal and it was an incredible feeling.

"We were playing at home, we had our people supporting us and I think we played incredible.

"We played like never before and also we had great fun in every game.

"If we make such a result again it would be a great moment in our careers, I want us to repeat such an achievement."

14. Martin Peterka (Czech Republic)
Peterka is leading the Czech team with 17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game

Peterka fits the mould of the modern power forward to perfection with his all-round skills and ability to stretch the floor.

He doesn't fit however the narrative of the player who takes every decision based only on the consequences it will have on his professional future.

Although he is currently unattached and still in search of a club for next season, he would not miss out on the chance to play for Czech Republic this summer, the chance to be with his long-term companions once again.

"For me, playing for the national team is a big honour and when I get the opportunity to play for my country and I am not injured or in bad condition, I take it," the Czech forward said.

"The national team has a place in my heart.

"I want to play the best I can on this tournament and then I will see [about a professional contract].

"I don't want to think of anything else right now, I just want to concentrate on helping the national team.

"It's true that basketball in the Czech Republic is maybe in third or fourth place, because ice hockey and football are very popular.

"But I think we are doing the maximum we can [to increase its popularity] as a national team.

"There were 5,000 people in the final in 2011 and people showed they liked and followed basketball.

"Our senior national team is getting better and better with players like [Tomas] Satoransky, [Jan] Vesely, [Ondrej] Balvin, [Pavel] Pumprla and it's the best thing for basketball in our country and us as young players."


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