In Sports News this Monday: Czechs reach quarter-finals at EuroBasket with historic win over Croatia – and could qualify for Rio Olympic; Limberský slammed for “steering wheel” goal celebration after drink driving charge; and ice hockey Extraliga resumes after summer break.
The Czech basketball team have notched up their greatest success in more than two decades after a resounding 80:59 victory over the fancied Croatians on Sunday saw them reach the quarter-finals of the European Championships. The Czechs have won four of their six games to date at EuroBasket 2015 and are in with an historic chance of reaching next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Among the stars of the Czech team on Sunday was David Jelínek, whose 11 points in four minutes during the second quarter represented a turning point in the game. The shooting guard said the huge win in France’s Lille was payback for defeat to the Croatians in the group stage of the same competition two years ago.
“We all went into the match in that spirit. We believed in ourselves. Croatia were the favourites but they didn’t play so brilliantly, so we knew they could be beaten. We gave it our all and I think that was the key thing… We won’t be celebrating much just yet. We’re not in the semi-final or the final yet. It was just the last-16 stage. Very difficult games await us so we have to keep training.”
Veteran former NBA player Jiří Welsch, now aged 35, had thought that Sunday’s game might be his last in Czech colours.
“This morning I spoke to my girlfriend, who is at home with our little baby girl. I said I’d phone her again in the afternoon, either with the news that I was in the quarter-finals at the Euros or that I had entered international retirement. So I’m looking forward to telling her my retirement has been postponed.”
The Czech Republic can qualify for the Olympics if they beat Serbia in Wednesday’s quarter-final, or win the games to decide fifth to eighth place at EuroBasket. They would be the only Czechs involved in a team sport in Rio.
Viktoria Plzeň’s David Limberský has come in for a wave of criticism for a goal celebration in a 4:0 win over Příbram on Sunday. The Czech international could face a prison term for fleeing the scene after he crashed his Bentley car while under the influence in Prague last week. Plzeň quickly fined the full-back and stripped him of the club captaincy but have allowed him to continue playing. However, Limberský rather undermined a public statement of contrition by making a “hands on steering wheel” gesture and grinning broadly when he opened the scoring for the West Bohemians at the weekend.
The Czech ice hockey Extraliga resumed after the summer break on Friday evening. Title-holders Litvínov got off to an impressive start, beating the 2014 champions Zlín by a convincing 4:0. However, they lost their second game on Sunday, going down 4:1 to Liberec. Plzeň, Sparta Prague and Třinec have all won their opening two matches.
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