|17 August 2012|
Tomás Satoránský and the Czechs are facing Italy in their next Qualification Round game
The Czech Republic know their path to the EuroBasket Final Round has a lot of bumps.
They hit one in their first game at Belarus but didn't crash but rather won, 73-65.
In Group F with the Czechs are Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Belarus.
The Czechs now face an opponent at home that could be their stiffest test.
The Italians are coming to Chomutov.
"We are truly in one of the most difficult groups, if not the hardest," said Tomas Satoransky, who poured in 12 points and handed out nine assists in the Czechs' win over Belarus.
"We feel the strength of Italy ... and we would like to get something at home."
Belarus are not one of the powerhouses in Europe but away victories are priceless.
"For us, it was a very important first step," said Pavel Budinsky, the Czech coach said.
"It was a win on the ground that we have literally rescued because the game was very physical."
Budinsky says Czech fans have two incentives to come and watch their game.
Not only can they support the home team, but also watch an Italian side that has played very well so far this summer.
The Azzurri romped to a 97-45 triumph over Portugal in their opening game.
"Whoever wants to see a really very good and excellent basketball team, they will," he said.
"Italy are very well organized and have great ambitions."
Shivek Looks Ahead
Israel didn't plan on travelling to Montenegro and losing their Qualification Round opener but winning in Podgorica is anything but easy.
The Montenegrins prevailed, 75-69, yet Israel coach Arik Shivek says alarm bells are not ringing for his team.
"I'm disappointed with the defeat to Montenegro," Shivek said.
"We missed shots we usually make, but that is basketball.
"We have to look at the big picture and remember that this is just a single defeat in a 10-game campaign."
Next up are Estonia, who are trying to reach the EuroBasket Final Round for the first time since 2001.
The Estonians won't be pushovers, as they showed in a 95-74 win over the Slovak Republic.
Janar Talts was outstanding for Estonia with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Kristjan Kangur also poured in 15 points.
Israel's NBA player, Omri Casspi, is seething after the defeat to Montenegro.
|Omri Casspi is convinced Israel can do better in their next games|
"We were the better team," he said.
"We were not overconfident. It was our first qualifier of the campaign and it was on the road.
"We will need to continue to work on our game.
"We face a tough game on Saturday.
"Estonia won by 21 points and we will have to take the game to them."
Casspi says it's crucial that the home support is there for Israel.
"We are going to need the support of the crowd on Saturday, especially as we are playing in Rishon and not at Nokia Arena," he said.
Serbia Waiting On Krstic, Erceg
Serbia will not know if Nenad Krstic or Zoran Erceg will be able to play against Montenegro this week until shortly before the game.
Both have been trying to fully recover from ankle injuries and achieve match fitness.
"We are ready for the challenge and hopefully a full arena," said Krstic.
"As for my game, I am healthy, but I'm not in the best shape.
"It's up to the coaching staff to decide whether I play."
Another difficulty for Serbia, who won at Iceland in their opener, is the unavailability of 2.02m small forward Vladimir Lucic for the remainder of the Qualification Round.
|Nenad Krstic is still doubtful for Serbia with an ankle injury |
Lucic had 16 points and seven rebounds in the Serbians' victory.
"Despite these problems, we are ready for Montenegro, who have a talented and organized team," Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic said.
"They have the American point guard (Taylor Rochestie), but I think we have more talent.
"I invite the public to come in large numbers and give us a way to support the sport."
Ivkovic is taking nothing for granted.
"Our group is the most comprehensive, highest quality and perhaps the most difficult and competitive," Ivkovic said.
"We're fortunate that the game against Iceland was played on Tuesday and we've had plenty of time for rest and training."
Ivkovic says the players must execute the game-plan and be fully concentrated if they are going to beat Montenegro.