The Czech Republic‘s national team started their preparations for the upcoming FIBA U19 World Championship on Sunday by playing a test game in Prague’s O2 Arena, the venue that will host the Final Round of this summer’s tournament.
Going up against the junior team of Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow, the Czechs led by 16 at halftime but finished on the losing end, 78-70, despite Radovan Kouril scoring 22 points. Petr Safarcik added 15 points and Martin Peterka had 12 points for the home side.
“We had a good start to the game. The opponents let us play. We substituted the players and lost the tempo,” said Czech U19 coach Petr Jachan, whose team was ahead 28-12 after the first quarter and 44-28 at halftime.
“The opponents played more intensive defense in the second half and made a lot of difficult shots.
“We made shots too but they had an answer every time and used their psychological advantage to win the game.”
Artem Komolov was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points for CSKA’s junior team, which outscored the Czechs 33-16 in the fourth quarter. Anton Astapkovich added 13 points and Sergey Zhulkov chipped in with a dozen in the winning cause.
The test game presented the Czechs with the opportunity to bring together their full squad, with two players coming back from Italy and two from Spain.
The contest between the Czech U19 national team and CSKA’s junior side drew 2,500 spectators. It preceded a VTB United League clash that pitted CEZ Nymburk and CSKA Moscow in front of a crowd of more than 5,000.
“It was a great test of us. Now we know what we need to improve to give a great welcome to spectators and fans at O2 Arena this summer,” said Michal Konecny, Deputy Secretary General of the Czech Basketball Federation.
“I am satisfied with the course of the test event and with the number of spectators.
“People from Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic showed that they can enjoy top level youth basketball. We will build on this to push everyone to visit the FIBA U19 World Championship.”
Preliminary Round and Eighth-Finals action will be played at Podvinny Mlyn and Sparta Arena.