>> Renáta Březinová of the women's national team talks to journalists before departing for the European Championships in Israel and Slovenia, June 12, 2023, Prague.
Ljubljana – After moving from Tel Aviv to Ljubljana on Tuesday, the Czech women's basketball players will face Hungary at the European Championship at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. In addition, the winners secure participation in the qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris next year. Thanks to Monday's 79:76 win over Greece, coach Romana Ptáčková's team ended their wait for participation in the quarterfinals since 2013. Among the top four were the women's representatives at the continental championship two years earlier.
The winners will play the semi-finals on Saturday with the more successful of the fight between Spain and Germany. The losers will compete with the worse of the pair for 5th to 8th place and will have the chance to continue to fight for Olympic qualification, which hosts France and the other five best teams of the tournament will enter.
Hungarian women who attack European Championship for the first semi-final since 1997, they won group D. They started with a victory over Slovakia (89:67), then lost to Turkey (68:69) and finally defeated Serbia (81:75). The Czechs will once again struggle with the advantage of the opponent under the basket, as the Hungarians also have at their disposal Bernadett Határová, who measures 208 centimeters.
“We are already quite used to it. I hope that we practiced something in those matches. But I would not simplify it like that, because Hungary's strength is definitely that the whole five is extremely dangerous,” said Ptáčková. “They have a very good perimeter, the players play great one-on-one. Whether it's Dubeiová, Leliková, who are not only good shooters, but they are extremely fast, great point guards who have a great overview. Hungary's whole game is dangerous, it will be all the more difficult ,” declared the Czech coach.
Shooting from a distance will again be important for the Czech team. “That's how we have it in every game. If we succeed from three-pointers, we can catch such an opponent by surprise. If the shooting from a distance does not go well, then unfortunately we do not have so many points from the defined area. There are also not many counter-attacks here, because of course the attacks are of high quality and the opponent so many does not produce losses,” said Ptáčková.
The Czech basketball players last played against Hungary in June 2019 in preparation in Prague and won 65:58. They have played two matches against each other at the EC. In 2001, in Gravelines, France, the Czech team won 57:55 after extra time, and six years ago in Hradec Králové, they lost 70:74.
On Tuesday, the basketball players rested after moving from Israel and trained for the first time in the Stožice Arena for almost 12,500 spectators today after noon. “When it is said that we will fly over on a special flight, it looks very simple, but we got up before four o'clock in the morning and the day was really completely broken. It was also very tiring. I hope the girls slept through it yesterday. They had a free day, we just they watched the match Slovakia – Germany. Today, they told me at training that they are ready both mentally and physically,” said Ptáčková.
Winger Veronika Voráčková did not complete the training, as she withdrew in the first half of the duel with Greece due to problems with her ankle. She injured her leg in the warm-up against Slovakia, missed the first two matches at the EC and only played against Israel. “It's roughly where it was before the match against Israel, so tomorrow's pre-match warm-up will show if she'll be able to play at one hundred percent,” said Ptáčková. Voráčková celebrated her 24th birthday today and got a cake after lunch.
Player Eliška Hamzová also had problems against Greece, but she finished the match. “I think he'll be fine,” the coach said.
The duel is played first in the quarter-final program after noon, in group B in Tel Aviv, the Czech basketball players already tried out an early match against Belgium. Ptáčková does not see a problem in this. “We arranged today to make up for the morning training,” she pointed out.
If her team succeeds, it will have a certain participation in the Olympic qualification. Otherwise, he will continue to fight for her. “It may be a phrase, but we are going step by step and we are not thinking at all if it is now about qualifying for the Olympics. We have already achieved a lot here, but of course, on the other hand, we are excited to continue. But the opponents are already quality, that they are favorites in every match,” said Ptáčková.
Eighteen-year-old center Emma Čechová admitted that she will again struggle with nervousness before the match. “I'm nervous as a dog. I didn't deal with the preparatory matches, but since we're in Europe, it's worse. I'm trying to fight it. It's getting better and better match by match,” said Čechová.
Against She scored Greece's first points in the tournament and gave them seven. Now she will face the Hungarians. “They have great shooters and their attacks are very long, so we have to solve this mainly in defense. The key will be to have a great defense and, like in other matches, to be aggressive,” Čechová added.