Czech Republic punished a lacklustre Croatia 80-59 in Lille on Sunday to advance to the EuroBasket quarter-finals for the first time as an independent country.
Turning Point: Croatia needed a big reaction at the beginning of the third quarter having fallen 17 points behind at the halfway stage. But another sloppy turnover in the opening minute allowed Jiri Welsch to add to the lead before Krunoslav Simon landed awkwardly on the ankle that had already needed treatment prior to tip-off. This set the tone for the second half, and the Croatians' belief disappeared with Simon, who did not return.
Stats Don't Lie: Velimir Perasovic's side committed 24 turnovers. Many of those mistakes were forced by sharp Czech defence, as they racked up 11 steals, but more were down to poor passing and decision-making. This allowed Czech Republic to score 36 points from turnovers.
Game Hero: As he has done since the first day of competition, Tomás Satoransky orchestrated his team's offence in masterful fashion. He had 10 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals in more than 36 minutes of play. The 23-year-old demonstrated great understanding to control the pace while getting all of his team-mates involved on the offensive end.
The Bottom Line: Croatia appeared out of sorts from the early stages and never got anything going, missing out on a second straight trip to the last eight. The Czechs, after some poor results in lead-up to the competition, have gone from to strength to strength with their up-tempo style making the most of their athletic advantages. They will face the winners of Serbia against Finland in their first quarter-final.
They Said: "This is our way to play, running the fast-break. Everybody knows this but it's hard to prepare for it" - Satoransky