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Czechs clinch first-ever trip to World Cup following tough win over Bosnia and Herzegovina
SARAJEVO (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Czech Republic booked a ticket to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 - their first-ever trip to FIBA's flagship event - after defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 85-80 in the European Qualifiers.
Tomas Satoransky led the way for the Czechs with 22 points, including a crucial layup with 35 seconds left. Blake Schilb contributed 20 points off the bench and Vojtech Hruban added 17 points, while Jan Vesely was held to just 4 points and 4 rebounds as he fouled out after just 17 minutes.
However, the Czechs had enough to improve to 7-1 in Group K - and guarantee they would finish in the top three to advance to their first World Cup. Ronen Ginzburg's team needed a bit of help from other teams to qualify in this window and France beat Finland 83-67 while Russia held off Bulgaria 77-73 earlier in the day to set up Czech Republic's day of celebrations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina dropped to 2-6 in Group K despite Jusuf Nurkic collecting 19 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals, while Elmedin Kikanovic scored 18 points to go with 8 rebounds and Dzanan Musa picked up 15 points and 4 assists.
Turning point: Edin Atic had just nailed a three-pointer to get Bosnia and Herzegovina to within 79-77 with 55 seconds left. But Satoransky hit a layup with 35 seconds left and added two more free throws with 22 seconds to play to decide it.
Game hero: Satoransky was a jack of all trades for Czech Republic with 22 points to go with 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
Stats don't lie: Bosnia and Herzegovina could not make up from hitting just 4-of-20 three-pointers (20 percent) while Czech Republic hit 7-of-14 (50 percent) from long range. The Czech bench also out-scored Bosnia and Herzegovina's reserves 25-10.
Bottom line: The Czechs will be at the World Cup next summer. The next window sees them host France and then travel to Russia. Bosnia and Herzegovina will have a very tough fight to get to China with a 2-6 record - two victories behind both Russia and Finland and also trailing 3-5 Bulgaria. The fifth window will see Bosnia and Herzegovina play at Bulgaria and then host Finland.
They said: "It's very hard for me to say something as it's very emotional right now and it's a historic moment for Czech Basketball today. I think it was a very nice game in front of a great atmosphere and it was a battle for every ball, every rebound. We were just luckier in the end. One or two possessions that's all it takes and maybe some missed free throws. But today we weren't better, we were just luckier." - Czech Republic forward Vojtech Hruban
"It's a historical moment that we win this game and we're qualified to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. It was a great atmosphere. We know that we come here and it's tough to play in this gym with a lot of history and Bosnia play aggressive like they know. We had problems during the game with their big men. We didn't adjust for this so well but I think we fight like animals and then when the game went one point here, one point there, it went to our side. It's a great achievement for Czech basketball. I thank everyone, players, staff, president and secretary general of federation." - Czech Republic head coach Ronen Ginzburg
"First of all congratulations on the win to the Czech Republic. I think we had a great chance especially on boths ends but unfortunately we didn't convert everything. I missed a lot of free throws which is not acceptable. We had some turnovers and our energy in the second half fell down. But overall I think we had a great chance to win the game and we didn't use it." - Bosnia and Herzegovina center Jusuf Nurkic
"First of all, thanks to all fans who came today to support us until the end. Congratulations to my team, congratulations to the team of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for their approach and big desire. They showed on the court that they did everything to win the game. Jusuf said everything else. We had so many turnovers in the second half, allowing them to score easily in transition, making them very hot in a critical period, with Vojtech Hruban and Blake Schilb and the game completely changed. It's a pity because in my opinion these two games, talking about my team, we deserved one win. But that's life. This team has a future, has to continue to work hard. It has many young players." - Bosnia and Herzegovina head coach Jasmin Repesa