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03/10/2010

KARLOVY VARY (2010 FIBA World Championship for Women) - A perfect scenario has unfolded for basketball in the Czech Republic.

The country has hosted the FIBA World Championship for Women the past couple of weeks and its own team has reached the title game.

The Czechs upset the defending champions Aussies on Friday, 79-68, with Czech Republic President Václav Klaus taking in the action.

They followed that with an 81-77 overtime victory over Belarus on Saturday.

Both games were played in front of a full house at the Karlovy Arena.

The atmosphere has been electric.

One of the country's most famous basketball players, Jiri (George) Zidek, is a vice president the Czech Basketball Federation.

He watched the Czechs overcome a brilliant Belarus and spoke to FIBA.com after the game.

Jiri, could you have dreamed about having a World Championship like this?

Jiri Zidek: That's what we talked about immediately after the game. Who would have thought in our wildest dreams, one year ago when we started organizing this tournament, that we would go to the gold-medal game. This is an incredible feeling. I really cannot find the words to describe it. I've been to many sporting events, my son is a player and I watch some good events, but this is just an unexpected and phenomenal success.

How important has it been for basketball in the Czech Republic, and for women's basketball overall, to have a great World Championship? Fans have been at games and games have been televised in many countries.

Jiri Zidek: It's very, very important. I think that for the past two weeks, the Czech Republic has gotten basketball every day at 6:30pm. We certainly hope at the federation that this will rub off on everything, that the exposure of the sport will help everybody. This is the best exposure that we can get for the sport.

The Czech team hasn’t been at its best the past few years. How have the Czech players been able to raise their level?

Jiri Zidek: The Quarter-Final game was just memorable. I think against Belarus, we could have been favorites but against Australia, it was David against Goliath. I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime event that you are associated with as an organizer or as a player. The President of the Czech Republic being here, almost close to tears - I speak good English but I can't find the words.

Can the Czechs compete against the USA, the favorites in this tournament? They haven't lost a game yet.


Jiri Zidek: We'll see. Our players will get rest. They will do their best, even in Brno when they lost two games. There hasn't been a time when they didn't do their best. That's all we ask for is to fight, fight, fight. That's what they have been doing. You never know with the USA. They have been playing with a wide rotation and will be rested.

 

You can see the championship game between the Czech Republic and the United States live on FIBATV.com.

FIBA

  
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