> Illustration photo – Media day of the men's Czech basketball team before the World Cup qualification matches at home against France and in Montenegro., February 20, 2023, Poděbrady.
Pardubice – On Thursday, the Czech basketball players will make their final appearance in the World Cup qualifiers at home, with no chance of advancing, they will welcome Group K France to Pardubice from 6:45 p.m. A certain participant in the championship in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan also has this year's NBA draft favorite Victor Wembanyam in the squad.
Coach Ronen Ginzburg's team lost 60-95 to France in Paris last August. Krok kept pace with the opponent until halftime, after which they still led 42:38. Now the teams, which were preparing for the September Eurobasket in full force, have changed. From France, only Terry Tarpey started from the current nominated fourteen, and there were six players on the Czech team's side. names probably relatively unknown to the fans and maybe even to us. But the French flag commands respect. They have a box of players in which they can rummage and pull out good pieces, still very large. They have already clearly advanced in the qualification, it will be a match for honor and glory ,” said captain Vojtěch Hruban, who was present at the last confrontation.
The Czech team is in the last sixth place in the group with three wins from ten matches. In case of success with France and on Sunday in Podgorica with Montenegro, he still has a theoretical hope of moving up to fifth position ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is fighting with Montenegro and Hungary for the progressive third place behind certain participants France and Lithuania.
< p>Coach Ginzburg will use the end of the qualification to test other candidates of the national team, but according to assistant Jan Pospíšil, the team with six participants from last year's EC wants to succeed in the matches. “It is still an official match of the national team. We will do everything to try to win first of all. The playing experience of young players is a complementary factor. We must do our best to win and to end the qualification in a dignified manner,” said Pospíšil.
An attraction for the fans, in addition to the basketball players' first home duel since the November match in Pardubice with Černá Hora (56:65), is the appearance of the nineteen-year-old talent Wembanyama, who is 219 centimeters tall.
“For some of our players, a match against such a fighter will be an experience of a lifetime, and I believe the same will be true for the fans. Even if our fans will be curious about such a player, it is still an opponent and they will support us. From what I have seen so far saw, it's enough for me to know that at his age he is already ruling the French league, which is completely unique,” said Ginzburg.
“He is definitely not an ordinary player. If other players like him play one day, it will be have to think about changing the rules, maybe it will be necessary to increase the hoop or make the field bigger. And now I'm not kidding,” Ginzburg said.
France has great strength even with the current squad, according to him. “Although France, like us, lacks some of its biggest stars, it has a lot of quality. Most of the players play in very good leagues and with this roster they could easily finish somewhere between fifth and eighth at last year's EuroBasket,” added Ginzburg. The team also has a complete newcomer, Jakub Slavík from Opava, who will be waiting for his first start in the national team.