The Czech Republic advanced to the final stage of additional qualifying for the EuroBasket 2005 following Thursday’s win against Poland.
The Czechs already had a 3-0 record in Group A and sealed their passage to the additional qualifying tournament in Serbia & Montenegro, from September 11-13, with a 69-64 defeat of the hosts in Wloclawek.
Lubos Barton was the catalyst of their victory, pouring in a game-high 21 points and snatching seven rebounds, while Michal Ignerski kept Poland in the fight for much of the game with an 18-point haul.
Barton, the 25-year-old shooting guard who will be playing in the EuroCup this season with new club DKV Joventut, scored 16 points during the opening period, and although his team were two points ahead by the end of the quarter, Poland managed to draw level at 42-42 by half-time.
The lead changed hands a number of times in the third quarter, which Czech coach Michal Jezdik saw as a critical period in the game, before the Czechs pulled clear in the final period.
“We probably decided about our win at the beginning of the second half,” said Jezdik.
“We took an advantage of a couple of points and we controlled the game from that moment until the end.
“I think that we won deservedly when we were better in this part of the game.
“We were mentally stronger than our opponents and that was the most important thing,” Jezdik added.
“We could have lost by fewer than eight points but we wanted to win. We simply came to Poland to win.
“We stopped an attack by the home team in the opening minutes when mostly Barton scored some very important baskets. There were around 5,000 fans in the hall so the atmosphere was great.”
Jezdik refreshed his side after the 96-86 victory over Estonia on Monday and was more than happy with the men he brought in.
“I made two changes in our starting line-up for this game. We started with Maurice Whitfield and Ladislav Sokolovsky instead of Petr Cudek and Pavel Milos,” said Jezdik.
“Sokolovsky had to stop Ignerski right from the beginning and he did it nicely.
“Our centers played well when Ondrej Starosta stopped big Rafal Bigus, who scored only one basket (except from free throws).”