Iran and Czech Republic meet Saturday night in the 2020 Olympics in a basketball meeting at the Saitama Super Arena. Iran will make its third Olympic appearance and is 2-10 all-time in its previous two trips, with an 11th place finish back in 2008. Czech Republic beat Greece, Canada and Uruguay to make its first appearance at the Olympics since the separation of Czechoslovakia.
Iran is the only team from Asia in the Tokyo Olympics and its most known for its success in the Asia Cup where it’s a three-time champion. Iran racked up a disappointing 1-4 record in friendly exhibition games, with that lone win coming against Japan over a month ago. There’s no NBA players on Iran’s current roster, but there’s many decorated international players, including Behnam Yakhchali, Mohammad Hassanzadeh, Sajjad Mashayekhi and Mohammad Jamshidi. Iran can have issues at times finding consistent offensive success, but just being here is an accomplishment in itself given the lack of previous Olympic experience.
Czechia win over Canada came down to the last shot and it’s the type of victory that gives a team confidence. Czech Republic won four games in the 2019 World Cup and is a consistent participant in the EuroBasket, which includes a seventh place finish in 2015. As for the roster, Czech Republic is led by Tomáš Satoranský, who plays for the Chicago Bulls and is a five-time Czech Player of the Year. Jan Veselý is also somebody who had NBA experience and was recently the EuroLeague MVP in 2019. Blake Schilb has done just about everything on the international level and he brings oodles of experience at 37 years old. Czech Republic isn’t in the easiest group, but there’s talent here and this club can’t be ignored.
There’s no match history between these two teams.
Czech Republic beat some solid teams to get to this point and there’s a decent gap in talent between these two clubs. Czech Republic also needs to take advantage of this game if it has any hopes of making it out of this group. Iran has had offensive issues in the past and this is a club that should simply just be happy to be here. We could see some sluggish play early, but this is a game Czech Republic should win comfortably in the end.
I’ll eat the chalk.