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MADRID (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) - The Czech Republic passed a real test against Japan to advance to the Olympics for the second consecutive time.
Jan Bobrovsky’s team, which finished a disappointing fifth at last year’s EuroBasket in Italy, completed a perfect FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 76-64 win over the Japanese – a team that has caused the Latvians and Czechs a lot of problems but been unable to prevail.
The team from the Far East led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter but the Czechs came back to lead 27-26 at half-time.
Once they had their noses in front, they stayed on top although Japan kept they game close.
After falling behind by 13 points in the third quarter, they twice trimmed the deficit to eight in the fourth quarter before losing by 12.
Japan will now take on Cuba on Saturday as they set out to claim the fifth and final spot for the Olympics.
The winner will on Sunday take on the side that emerges victorious from the other game between the quarter-final losers, the team that triumphs in that final game will clinch a spot for Beijing.
Eva Viteckova underlined her status as one of the best shooters in Europe with a game-high 26 points for the Czechs.
She drilled six of her 10 shots from behind the arc.
The Czechs did not get burned by another hot shooting display from Ryoko Yano of Japan.
Yano made six three-balls against the Latvians on her way to 20 points but was just one of six from behind the arc and finished with five points.
“We haven’t been playing our best,” Czech coach Jan Bobrovsky said immediately after the contest. “But of course we are very happy to have qualified.”
Bobrovsky is one of the most famous coaches in any sport in the Czech Republic because of the success with the national team, and his club side Gambrinus Brno.
He is extremely proud to be headed to the Beijing Games.
“We are the only team sport that goes to the Olympics from the Czech Republic,” he said.