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Tel Aviv/Ljubljana – Czech women's basketball players will enter the European Championship on Thursday with a match against Italy. In their 15th consecutive participation in the continental championship, they will appear in the basic group B in Tel Aviv on Friday against Belgium and on Sunday against home Israel. The wards of coach Romana Ptáčková will fight for three promotion spots. The winner will advance directly to the quarter-finals in Ljubljana, the teams from second and third place will face the fight to advance to the next stage in Slovenia on Monday, also in the Menora Mivtachim Arena for more than ten thousand fans. The Serbian women are defending the 2021 title.
Three times in a row, the Czechs finished last in their group at the EC and did not advance to the next stage. This time, with a rejuvenated squad, they will want to break this record and follow up on a successful preparation, in which they only competed against the participants of the championship and won six out of seven matches. In theory, even a single win can be enough to advance, but from the 2017 home performance in Hradec Králové and two years later from Riga, the Czech players have the opposite experience.
The opening match with the Italians, which will start at 14:00 , therefore they take it as an important step. The last time they faced them was in the qualifiers for the last EuroBasket. First, in November 2019, they won in Cagliari 62:52 and in the return they lost in November 2020 in Riga 63:69.
“From the beginning, I had the most faith in them, but as I saw their preparation, it won't be an easy match. It will depend on who grabs it more at the given moment and to whom it falls. It's also about luck. Maybe Zandalasiniova won't hit ten times in three and it will be great. Or they will also hit and it won't be good. All teams are playable for me, we'll see,” said captain Renáta Březinová.
Point guard Tereza Vyoralová also warns against the Italian star Cecilia Zandalasiniová from Bologna, who will be appearing at the sixth EC. “We know them. I think they will be aggressive. They are not very tall, they will probably play Zandalasini, who can do absolutely anything she wants in the team. We will have to prepare for her,” declared Vyoralová. “They have experienced players from the Eurocup and the Euroleague, so the team is certainly of good quality. They also had a decent preparation. We must not underestimate anything, the first match will certainly be important, we will go for victory.”
After the absence of the pivot Julia Reisingerová, the Czech team has to cope with the fact that another support Veronika Voráčková is suffering from an injured ankle. According to assistant Petr Treml, it is important to balance the team's self-confidence after six wins from seven games with the reality of fighting at the EC. “As a result, it was successful, not always in terms of gameplay. We also evaluated this ourselves, that some parts of the match were also not completely ideal,” Treml said. , so you get into that role a little bit: 'You beat these guys and you're in the role of favourite.' But that may not be the case in reality, because some of the opponents did not play in full formation,” said Treml.
In Tel Aviv, Spain, Montenegro, Latvia and Greece will also be represented in Group A, from which they will emerge opponent in the round of 16 for teams from “B” The round of 16 matches are scheduled for Monday, and the successful teams will advance to Thursday's quarterfinals in Ljubljana. Teams from groups C (Slovenia, France, Germany, Great Britain) and D (Serbia, Turkey, Hungary, Slovakia) await the round of 16 on Tuesday. The championship will culminate in Arena Stožice for more than 12,000 spectators on Sunday, June 25, the final is scheduled for 20:00.
Participation in the qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris will also be at stake to have the opportunity to fight alongside the host France, the other five best teams.