A couple of months after the “peiratiko” shook the country’s foundations with Samaras’ successfully taken penalty kick against Ivory Coast that lead them to the final 16 of the FIFA World Cup, it was the “Episimi Agapimeni’s” turn to do the same by overcoming the world’s top 3 ranked team, Argentina.
Giannis Bourousis, who contributed a massive 15 rebounds as well as 16 points, and Nick Calathes with 18 points were two of the keys to Greece ‘s victory, as the Europeans claimed the Group B summit and a tie against Serbia. Exactly a month ago Greece claimed a friendly victory against the Serbs in its first preseason match (66-64).
The game itself was a derby in the first two periods, though Argentina never claimed to lead the score. The 2005 European Champions would stretch the lead but the 2004 Olympic Champions always found ways to come back. Even in the third period when the Mediterraneans took the lead by 17, the LatinAmericans had it in them to chop the difference down to 2 points with 4.30 minutes to go.
Both in soccer and basketball, Greece is recognized for its ability to defend and once it concentrated in doing so in the last few minutes of the game, Argentina struggled to find answers and eventually surrendered to its destiny; a second place and a South American derby clash as they take on bitter rivals Brazil in the next round, with the last-16 encounter scheduled for Sunday.
The winners of the two clashes will meet again in the quarter-finals.
Quarters: 16-28, 33-44, 50-64, 71-79
Argentina (Lamas): Scola 17, Mata, Campazzo 10, Prigioni 10, Laprovittola 7, Gutierrez 3, Delia 4, Herrmann 7, Nocioni 8, Safar 5.
Greece (Katsikaris): Bourousis 16 (15 rbds), Zisis 13, Vasiliadis 2, Calathes 18, Papanikolaou 6, Sloukas 3, Kaimakoglou 2, Vougioukas 4, Printezis 15.