There were cliches for every team at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but the Czech Republic’s were among the most intriguing: With a veteran roster that has been playing together for years and a star player who is something of a hero in his home country and whose biggest childhood dream was not to play in the NBA but to represent his country on the world stage, this national team has all the makings of an Olympic contender.
T. Satoranský Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
There was late-game drama on many occasions, a game-winning bank shot in overtime, and an internet-worthy sound bite from before the game that involved beer, so it was simple to root for the Czechs.
All of these themes came together on a happy and emotional Fourth of July as the Czech Republic defeated Greece in the tournament finals to win the Olympic Qualification Tournament and qualify for the 2019 Tokyo Olympics.
Tomas Satoransky, captain of the team and TISSOT tournament most valuable player, remarked, “Today, we made the dream come true for our national team.”
After joining the national squad in 2012, Satoransky played in 49 games in the blue and white before qualifying for the Olympics.
His 19 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in a thrilling victory against Uruguay and his bank shot that gave the Czechs the lead with 1.8 seconds left in overtime in their amazing Semi-Final win against Canada, the tournament favourites, were shining examples of his brilliance in Victoria.
The 29-year-old point guard was inconsistent at times, but generally solid. The final stats for the four games he played in the tournament were 16 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 5.5 assists per game, and 1 steals per game. He shot 82.4 percent from the line and played 33.1 out of a possible 40 minutes per game.
They had to wait for a while to get to the Olympics with their team. Other players with 40 or more caps for their country include Patrik Auda, Ondrej Balvin, and Jakub Sirina. As many as four others have amassed at least 30 caps for their respective countries.
This background and rapport proved useful. The custom of the Czechs drinking beer together the night before every game also contributed.
Satoransky explained: “It’s the Czech attitude.” Before each game, “we have our meeting when we sit with each other and laugh and talk about different stuff and not really worry about the game and drink a beer and then we are focused.”