It’s Curtains for Vesely and the Czech Republic, but EuroBasket Wasn’t All Bad
Jan Vesely, Tomas Satoransky, and the rest of their Czech comrades were eliminated from EuroBasket on Monday after losing to Croatia, 70-53. A win would have almost certainly advanced the Czech Republic to the second round of EuroBasket play. It was a tough loss to swallow, as the Czechs shot well during the first half and actually led by one point after two quarters. But the Croatians, featuring Dario Saric, who is expected to be a 2014 lottery pick, were more experienced and collected during the second half. Croatia pushed to hold a five-point lead after three quarters and out-scored the Czechs 23-11 in the final period. The Croatians featured five players who scored in double-figures (the Czechs only had one, Pavel Pumprla), and they destroyed the Czechs on the boards, 47-27.
While they will leave Slovenia disappointed, having not reached their goal of advancing past the first stage, the Czechs can still be proud of the fact that they won two games, winning at EuroBasket for the first time since 1999. Aside from Vesely and Satoransky, the Czechs have three other players born in the 1990s. As the program continues to develop, hopefully replacing the contributions of veterans Jiri Welsch and Lubos Barton, the Czech Republic national team can reasonably hope to rank better than 61st in the world by FIBA in the near future. Let’s run-down the final game, in screenshots…
Dontaye Draper, known as Dick Whitman to some, is from a mere 45 miles north of the nation’s capital—Baltimore, Maryland. He played college ball at Charleston and was granted Croatian citizenship in 2011 shortly before suiting up for their national team. He’s one of almost a dozen “Americans” who were on EuroBasket rosters when the tournament started. Draper has averaged 16.8 minutes, 4.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists over five games for Croatia.
Just typical Croatian banter and expressions between Damir Markota and Roko Leni Ukic.
Damir was all like, ‘Why do you do what you do, Roko?’ And Roko was all like, ‘Naw, son, I ain’t the one.’ So, pretty typical you see, especially the ‘WTF’ forehead wrinkles.
One EuroBasket crowd trend: wearing the colors of an NBA team and just kind of ‘blending in’ with your countrymen.
OK, so the guy in the New Jersey Nets jersey makes sense—that’s the uni of a famed Croatian, the late, great Drazen Petrovic. But the guy with the red Chicago Bulls shirt and hat? C’mon, son.
Jan Vesely No. 15 jersey (I think)? Czech. Euro fashion scarf? Czech. Flag forehead paint and an ‘I’m cool’ look? Czech.
Tomas Satoransky found his way to the basket a couple of times, but was often surrounded by Croatians. It seems that the Czechs didn’t have enough offensive threats, or enough outside shooters, for Satoransky to truly shine—too much was on his shoulders, even if he did prove more than capable of handling it. He did, however, show a nice diversity in his offensive game. In this game he hit a midrange floater off a Vesely screen and also extended his range with a 3-pointer. If Satoransky again finds himself playing for Cajasol Sevilla in Spain for one more season (which is what remains on his current contract), where he’ll be counted on almost as much as he is for the Czech Republic, he might be able to further his offensive skills and confidence and be better equipped to take a try at the NBA.
Vesely finished with 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, one assist, one turnover, one steal, no blocks, seven fouls drawns, and a 1-for-10 effort from the free throw line. He ‘left it out on the floor’ as coaches say, and Vesely certainly man’d up his effort for the Czech Republic during five EuroBasket games, but the 23-year-old’s game still has a lot of growing up to do. (But perhaps not a ton of time to do it… at least in terms of the Wizards and future contract options.)
Vojtech Hruban—love the name … “Vojtech”—contributed five unexpected points early, but that’s all he would get. Rumor has it that Vojtech loves posters that encourage cute kittens to ‘hang in there,’ a good pinot gris, tinkering with transistor radios, and in his free time, he sells herbal supplements for the Czech equivalent of Amway.
Good ole Lubos Barton… a Czech hero of this tournament because of what he did versus Poland, but often couldn’t crack that bottle of magic otherwise. Barton shot 2-for-7 against Croatia and finished with five points and one rebound in 22 minutes. Still, if I was making movies, I’d have Lubos play the evil limo driver in a heartbeat.
Lots of aggressive finger-pointing going on in the Croatian huddle. I would expect nothing less from those who sport the checkerboard motif.
Jan Vesely at the free throw line… deer in headlights times 1,000.
His head is clearly affecting the fluidity of his mechanics and his routine. And ever since former teammate A.J. Price kind of put Jan out there after the season’s end—”I’ve heard him out of his own mouth, he doesn’t like to go to the free throw line. Just because everybody is watching,” said Price—free throws will be an increasing concern about Vesely. He shoots the ball during normal play like he’s scared to get fouled, and competitors for minutes on the Wizards can ill-afford to practice offensive avoidance. (Related news: Trevor Booker ain’t that great at free throws, either.)
Toward the end of the game, Vesely would just hurl the ball at the rim like he was trying to numb himself from the experience.
Czech fans all dressed up for the dance with no music.
What on earth could these to Croatian fans be looking at? I’m thinking the bro is all enthused over an advertisement for some new-fangled Slovenian grilled sausage featuring exotic meats from several animal groups. The girl just looks scared…
Honza to the bench… It was a tough loss for Jan and the Czechs, but hopefully Vesely will return to the U.S. with his head high and ready to build on his summer in training camp, free throws be damned.
Croatian celebration while the Czechs lick their wounds as a team…