FIBA Release / ISN images
VICTORIA (Canada) – Czech Republic was a couple bad bounces away from being bounced from the tournament early.
They didn’t let it get to that point in the championship.
The Czechs dominated Greece, leading wire to wire and winning 97-72 to clinch their berth at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
It’s the national team’s first trip to the Olympics since the separation of Czechoslovakia
Turning point: The third quarter. Czech Republic led by seven at halftime, but Greece weren’t going away. The Greeks cut their deficit to five points in the third before the Czechs went on a tear and outscored them 29-7 during the rest of the frame.
Game hero: Jan Vesely. After a quiet first three games of the tournament, the veteran was an aggressive game changer in the championship. He scored six of the Czechs’ first eight points of the game and finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. In contention: Czech Republic’s Patrik Auda led all players with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting to earn player of the game honors. Georgios Papagiannis scored 14 points to lead Greece
Stats don’t lie: Czech Republic cruised on offense, shooting a red-hot 62.7 percent. Fluid ball movement and crisp transition offense had Greece playing catch-up all game.
Bottom line: It was a historic day for the Czech Republic. The men’s national team had never qualified for the Olympics, and came close in 2016, but finished the job with a dominant performance in Victoria.
They said: “We were getting better every game. We didn’t start well. The lack of practice, the lack of preparation, influenced us a lot, but we believed in this group. We’ve got good chemistry playing with each other for a long time.” – Czech Republic’s Tomas Satoransky
“They’re a veteran team that took advantage of us in a lot of different areas. They dominated us on the glass 35-23, their assists were 25-12. The effort was there, but the game wasn’t. But that’s due to the brilliance of the Czech Republic. They were just much better than us.” – Greece coach Rick Pitino