|26 August 2012|
|A man with a plan - Czech Republic center Petr Benda suggests his team will have to turn Turkey's size advantage into a weakness |
The Czech Republic host Turkey on Monday in one of the most eagerly-awaited clashes of the day anywhere in the EuroBasket Qualification Round.
It is still early days to talk about a pivotal match-up, but the losing side will find themselves on the wrong end of a two-point gap from the top, after only four games in Group F.
Italy lead the group with a perfect 4-0 record while the Czechs and the Turks are currently tied in second place at 2-1.
"We know what this (game) is about," said Czech Republic center Petr Benda, "a win would help us significantly in our qualification campaign."
"In any case, this is for us one of the most important games in the group," Czech coach Pavel Budinsky added.
If the importance of the Monday clash does not escape the hosts, they are even more aware of the caliber and basketball tradition of their opponent.
"Turkey will be an opponent similar to Italy," Budinsky offered in reference to his team's home game against the Azzurri, a 63-53 loss.
"So you can be sure they will be a very good, very well-organized team.
"What's important is that we play better on offense and we score more points this time."
Benda is the Czech Republic's leading scorer in the Qualification Round after the first three games, averaging 13.7 points per contest.
But the big guy has watched Semih Erden and the rest of the Turkey frontline he will go up against on Monday, and knows that an improved offensive production won't be an easy assignment.
"Under the basket they are very strong and they have quality," he said.
"In halfcourt offense, five against five in confined spaces, they have an advantage over us."
The center however has already thought of a way his team could turn the size disadvantage to their favour.
"We have to be very athletic and mobile and play fast, lively basketball," Benda suggested.
"The Turks have a weakness on defence, where they lack mobility," his coach agreed.
"But for us to succeed, all our players have to put in an extraordinary performance."