|Tomas Soukal and Czech Republic won an intense battle against neighbours Poland|
The Czech Republic had to fight hard, but came back well to record a third victory at the U16 European Championship Men in Pardubice.
The stands were noisy and packed with fans, as the vocal support of the home crowd was met by travelling fans from Poland cheering their team on.
And the players didn't disappoint as they served up a rich feast of basketball.
The Polish team played well behind Damian Jeszke's 17 points and 9 rebounds, but the Czech team out-rebounded Poland 58-34 overall.
Radovan Kouril (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Martin Peterka (11 points, 12 rebounds) both registered double-doubles, and Prokop Slanina added 10 rebounds and a blocked shot.
Matej Rubes hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give the Czech Republic a 21-19 lead, and early in the second quarter Matej Svoboda chased back on defense to block a breakaway lay-up, sending the crowd wild.
But Poland continued to play hard and Filip Pruefer was troubling the Czech defense inside. Marek Walczak hit a three-pointer for Poland with six seconds remaining to make the score 38-35, a three-point lead for the Czech Republic.
When Jiri Dedek fouled out for the Czech Republic with 4:12 left in the third quarter, Poland went on a 9-0 run to take a 56-48 lead. Adam Mazur got a good steal and a breakaway lay-up, and then Szymon Michalik put back an offensive rebound to give Poland an 8-point lead.
The home crowd pushed their players for a comeback, and Svoboda again inspired wild cheers with a hard drive and three-point play to make the score 58-55 to Poland.
In the final quarter, the Czech team were trailing 62-66 when they fumbled away a fast-break. But Kouril then scored a jumper, and Slanina twice got deflections to force a turnover from which Jiri Soula scored to tie the game at 66-66.
Mikolaj Witlinski hit a jump-shot to put Poland ahead 71-70, but Kouril connected again and then, off a Polish miss, Kouril found the cutting Soula for a lay-up to give the Czech team a 74-71 lead with 0:56 remaining.
After two free throws from Soula, Walczak hit another three-pointer, but Tomas Soukal found space to make the decisive score with 13 seconds left.
Poland will now compete with Lithuania, Montenegro and Bulgaria to avoid relegation to Division B. The Czech Republic will advance to the Qualifying Round and hope that they continue their momentum.