Czechs Post Friendly Win

08 August 2005

Every practice and game is important for the Czech Republic as they prepare for the additional qualifying tournament for EuroBasket 2005.

Confidence will be a major factor for each of the nine teams trying to reach Serbia & Montenegro where the EuroBasket will be staged, and the Czechs are hoping to have it in abundance after this weekend's friendlies against Russia, one of the teams headed for Belgrade.

The Czechs defeated Russia 97-69 in Prague's Folimanka Hall on Saturday.

Neither side was at full strength, with NBA player Jiri Welsch (back), Radek Necas (back), Jiri Cornosek (ankle) and Ondrej Starosta (calf) rested by the Czechs due to small injuries and NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko among the absentees for Russia.

But players looking to find their feet with the national side got opportunities, including Nymburk's Philadelphia-born Maurice Whitfield, who gained Czech citizenship earlier this year.

In the friendly, the Russians led 20-16 after the opening quarter but the Czechs closed to within 39-38 at half-time and then took control in the third quarter by stretching their advantage to 69-53.

Pavel Milos led the Czechs with a game-high 22 points, while DKV Joventut's big summer signing Lubos Barton had 17 points and Whitfield weighed in with 11.

For the Czechs to have a chance of reaching the EuroBasket, their defence must improve.

Michael Jezdik's men will also have to utilise their strength of three-point shooting.

In this contest, they were a scintillating 15 of 32 (47%) from long range.

Overall, the Czechs were 29 of 64 (45%) from the field. The Czechs were also outstanding at the free throw line, burying 24 of 27 (89%).

Russia were just two of 19 from behind the arc and 22 of 55 (40%) from the field. At the line, they were an abysmal 23 of 39 (59%).

The two sides play another friendly on Sunday.

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