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Game Preview: USA National Team Looking to Bounce Back Versus Czechs

  • Date:
    Sep 23, 2014

Prague, Czech Republic

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team (3-1) arrived in Prague late in the afternoon of Sept. 22 upon the heels of a loss to host France in Paris. In its final tune-up to the 2014 FIBA World Championship, the USA will face 2013 FIBA Europe sixth place finishers Czech Republic, which captured the silver medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Played at Tipsport Arena in Prague, the game will begin at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. EDT). Live online statistics and play-by-play can be found here and you may also follow the USA Basketball Twitter account and #USABWNT for live in-game updates.

After a disappointing four-point loss (76-72) to France two nights ago, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team is hoping to close its exhibition schedule on a high note against the Czech Republic tonight at Tipsort Arena in Prague (1 p.m. EDT). It will not be an easy task against an opponent that claimed the silver medal at the most recent FIBA World Championship in 2010, which was held on their home soil.

The U.S., however, does have a unique scouting advantage in Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx), who played for ZVVZ USK Prague and Czech head coach Lubor Blazek, from 2007-08 through 2011-12. Listed on the USK roster also were several members of the Czech National Team.

“A lot of my old teammates,” said Whalen when she was asked about what she expected to see upon her return to Prague. “Some familiar faces. It's always fun to be back. I was here for five years, so everything is really familiar. I never stayed on this side of the river, though. We lived and played on the other side. It’s kind of neat to see a different part of the city as well. It should be a fun couple of days. It's a quick trip, but good to be able to be here and see some old friends.”

But it’s not all about reuniting with old friends. Both teams are looking to get a final victory before the FIBA World Championship tips off in Istanbul on Sept. 27.

The Czechs return eight from their 2012 Olympic Team and nine from the team that finished sixth at the 2013 European Championship, including veterans Jana Vesela and Eva Viteckova, who averaged 8.5 and 15.2 points per game, respectively, at the 2012 Olympic Games.

“They've got some great shooters,” stated Whalen. “They're big. In the last World Championship they showed what they can do when they really get going, and what they can do when they start to feel good. We played them in the Olympics as well. They are just a tough team. They have tough players. They play hard. They are going to rebound and fight. If you give them open looks for threes, they are going to knock them down. They have really good shooters and a lot of good young players coming up.”

Two players not on the current roster are two of Czech’s top three scorers from the 2013 European Championship, Michaela Stejskalová (11.4 ppg., 2.8 rpg., 1.4 apg.) and Veronika Bortelová (6.9 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 3.4 apg.). However, there is still plenty of firepower, youth and veteran leadership looking for an upset in front of a home crowd.

They will find that to be difficult as the USA National Team is expected to fight hard to bounce back from the sting of a loss. Nobody likes losing, and when you have a team comprised of fierce competitors such as Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and Whalen, among others, they tend to return to the court more focused than ever.

“Anytime you have a game where everybody wished they had a lot of plays back, all you can do is learn from it and focus and get ready for the next game, and come out and be even more focused and more determined the next game,” said Whalen. “I know we will come out ready to go.”

LAST TIME OUT: In the fourth game of the 2012 Olympic Games preliminary round, the U.S. behind 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point by Taurasi, erased an early 10-0 deficit and took down the Czech Republic 88-61.

LAST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING: The two teams met in the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game, and the Americans looked to be pulling away late in the first half. The Czechs, however, would not back down and cut the gap to 40-35 at halftime. The Czechs cut it to 40-37 to open the second half, but that was as close as they would get. The U.S. went on a 15-2 run and never looked back en route to an 89-69 gold medal victory as Angel McCoughtry led the way with 18.

The silver marked the Czechs’ first World Championship medal of any color under their own flag.

A LITTLE HISTORY: Back in 2001, 2013-16 USA National Team head coach Geno Auriemma was head coach of the USA Junior World Championship Team that traveled to Brno, Czech Republic, in hopes of defending the gold medal won by the USA at the 1997 FIBA Junior World Championship (now known as the FIBA U19 World Championship). The U.S. squad featured future Olympic gold medalists in Cappie Pondexter and Taurasi, while the Czech squad included Vesela and Viteckova. The USA rolled through its preliminary round unscathed with a perfect 5-0 mark, while the hosts dropped one contest to Australia, 61-55. With the U.S. finishing atop its pool and Czech Republic finishing second on its side, the stage was set for a semifinal between the Americans and Czechs. 

Despite receiving 25 points from Taurasi, the defending Junior World Champions were unseated by host Czech Republic as the U.S. dropped its semifinal match 92-88. The Czechs held an 81-72 lead with 6:14 remaining in the game and with 30 seconds to go, the U.S. had closed the gap to 91-86. Pondexter scored the USA's final two points of the contest to cut the game to 91-88 with 12.9 seconds to go. The USA's defensive pressure prevented the Czech team from inbounding the ball and the U.S. regained possession. But, before the Americans could get the game started again, Pondexter was called for an offensive foul to give the ball back to the Czechs. Making one of the two free throws, the game was put out of reach 92-88. Viteckova played all 40 minutes and scored a game-high 29 points (12-27 FGs), while Vesela also played the entire game and posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The United States rebounded from its semifinal loss to claim the bronze medal with a 77-72 victory over Australia on July 22. Taurasi led the U.S. with 23 points. The game was evenly matched from the start, and at halftime the score was knotted at 43-43. With the score standing 47-47 at 6:49 in the third, the USA went on 13-2 run to open up the contest 60-49. The Aussies converted on 2-of-4 attempts from the line to close the gap to 61-51, but the United States extended its lead to 12 points, 67-55, by the end of the third quarter. Australia battled back to 75-70 late in the fourth, but it was too late as the United States went on to claim the bronze.

Host Czech Republic edged Russia 82-80 to capture the gold medal. 

CZECH REPUBLIC

FIBA world ranking: 5.

How Czech Republic qualified: 2013 European Championship sixth place finisher (4-5).

World Championship appearances: 10 (8 as Czechoslovakia: 1957, 1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975, 1986, 1990; 2 as Czech Republic: 2006, 2010).

World Championship overall record: 56-25 (.691) overall; 11-7 (.611) as Czech Republic.

World Championship medals: 3 silver medals (&1964, &1971, 2010), 4 bronze medals (&1957, &1959, &1967, &1975).

Key players in 2013 European Championship: Petra Kulichová (7.2 ppg., 6.7 rpg., 2.0 bpg.).

USA vs. Czech Republic at the World Championship: 6-3 overall, 2-0 vs. Czech Republic.

2012 Olympic finish: 7th place (2-4).

Czech Republic at the FIBA World Championship

Year Record Medal/Finish

2010 6- 3 Silver Medal

2006 5- 4 7th Place

&1990 4- 4 4th Place

&1986 4- 3 4th Place

&1975 6- 2 Bronze Medal

&1971 7- 2 Silver Medal

&1967 4- 2 Bronze Medal

&1964 8- 1 Silver Medal

&1959 5- 2 Bronze Medal

&1957 7- 2 Bronze Medal

Totals 56-25 (.691)

Czech Republic Only: 11-7 (.611)

 

& Czechoslovakia

USA vs. Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia at the FIBA World Championship

USA 6, Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia 3

Czech Republic (2-0)

W 89- 69 2010

W 63- 50 2006

Czechoslovakia (4-3)

W 87- 59 1990

W 86- 59 1990

W 89- 61 1986

L 65- 66 1975

L 31- 50 1964

W 61- 55 1957

L 50- 53 1957

 

2014 USA National Team Members -- CAPS

(*Games played in a USA Basketball uniform as of 9/21/14)

Seimone Augustus 84

Sue Bird 111

Tina Charles 49

Candice Dupree 26

Brittney Griner 5

Jantel Lavender 24

Angel McCoughtry 35

Maya Moore 43

Nneka Ogwumike 29

Odyssey Sims 15

Breanna Stewart 51

Diana Taurasi 102

Lindsay Whalen 49

*Includes exhibition contests, but does not include intrasquad games.

 

USA Game-by-Game Highs (as of Sep 21, 2014)

 

OPP

DATE

SCORE

WL

POINTS

REBOUNDS

ASSISTS

STEALS

BLOCS

CAN

9/15

76-51

W

10-Ogwumike

 4-Ogwumike

 4-Moore

 6-Moore

 1-Lavender,
McCoughtry

AUS

9/19

72-66

W

 9-Stewart

 6-Moore,
Ogwumike

 6-Taurasi

 2-Moore,
Augustus,
Ogwumike, Taurasi

 2-Stewart

CHN

9/20

99-75

W

16-Ogwumike

 5-Dupree,
Lavender, Charles

 5-Sims, Whalen

 4-Augustus

 2-Stewart

FRA

9/21

72-76

L

12-Charles

 7-Charles

 5-Whalen

 4-McCoughrey, Taurasi

 1-Ogwumike

All-time USA vs. Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia scores
in official international competitions
(excludes exhibition games)

 

Czech Republic (11-1)

W

101- 61

2013

WUG

W

88- 61

2012

OLY

W

89- 69

2010

WC

W

115- 78

2009

WUG

W

97- 57

2008

OLY

W

85- 66

2007

U19

W

63- 50

2006

WC

W

88- 64

2005

WUG

W

80- 61

2004

OLY

W

94- 46

2003

U21

L

88- 92

2001

JWC

W

84- 56

1997

WUG

Czechoslovakia (10-4)

W

111- 55

1992

OLY

W

86- 59

1990

WC

W

87- 59

1990

WC

L

87- 90

1989

JWC

W

87- 81

1988

OLY

W

89- 61

1986

WC

W

78- 70

1986

GWG

W

86- 67

1981

WUG

W

102- 66

1980

OLYQ

W

83- 67

1976

OLY

L

65- 66

1975

WC

L

31- 50

1964

WC

L

50- 53

1957

WC

W

61- 55

1957

WC

 

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