KARLOVY VARY (2010 FIBA World Championship for Women) - The United States can finally forget the disappointment of 2006 in Brazil after beating the Czech Republic on Sunday in the gold medal game at the FIBA World Championship for Women.
The Americans, who were upset by Russia four years ago in the Semi-Finals and had to settle for bronze, completed an unbeaten run in the Czech Republic with an 89-69 triumph over the host nation in front of another loud crowd in Karlovy Vary.
Diana Taurasi , one of the American superstars, had 16 points and was voted to the All-Star Five.
"To come here, play against this great team and with a fantastic crowd means a lot to us,” Taurasi said.
“We had 12 determined players. The Czech Republic are a basketball country, they have good players and a fantastic coach and they had a good run.
“For us to win gold at the World Championship was grueling, hard and personally, very satisfying, especially the way we did it.”
Both the USA men and women have won world titles this year.
As they did for the entire tournament, Geno Auriemma's side had an advantage on the boards.
They finished with 43 rebounds - 19 on the offensive glass - to 29 for the Czechs.
Angel McCoughtry ended up with a game-high 18 points with Taurasi contributing 16.
Tina Charles also excelled in the low post, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
The Czech Republic lost the game, but couldn’t help but smile and celebrate almost immediately after the final buzzer.
To reach the title game was a dream because their pre-tournament aim had been to make it to the Quarter-Finals.
Hana Horakova , the Czechs’ best player, was voted MVP of the tournament and was also included in the All-Star Five with teammate Eva Viteckova, USA’s Taurasi, Spain’s Sancho Lyttle and Belarus center Yelena Leuchanka.
“This is a dream,” Horakova said.
“I share all of these awards with my teammates because they helped me get them.
“This is a great result for Czech basketball, to finish runners-up in a World Championship feels like a miracle.
“We knew it would be very difficult against the USA and it was because they have 12 stars in their team."
The United States caught a break at the start of the game when the Czech Republic's Jana Vesela appeared to trip over Charles’ right leg while trying to play defense.
The veteran forward crashed into a player, fell hard to the court and didn't return.
The Czechs continued to battle and only trailed 19-14 at the end of the first quarter and 40-35 at half-time, despite the Americans getting 18 points off turnovers.
Horakova had a game-high nine points at the break with two steals and Petra Kulichova had three blocks at the interval.
Taurasi had eight points while point guard Sue Bird had six with three steals.
The start of the second half is when the Americans took over.
“The coach told us at half-time that we had to take a deep breath,” Taurasi said.
“We came back in the second half with a lot of energy and we got a big run and got big shots."
After a Tereza Peckova basket cut the Czech deficit to 40-37, the USA got a three-ball from Taurasi before a Tamika Catchings steal triggered a fast break that Bird finished with a lay-up.
Kulichova scored with a 10-foot jumper, but Taurasi struck again from the arc to spark a 10-0 run that put the USA in front at 58-41.
They remained in command the rest of the way and went in front by as many as 25.
They ended up with 28 points off turnovers.
photos Janos Schmidt