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Greece get past Serbia, remain perfect at 7-0
HERAKLION (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Greece saw off a challenge from Serbia in picking up a 70-63 home win to remain undefeated in Group L of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers.
In a battle of giants in the European game, Nick Calathes and Georgios Printezis had 15 points apiece while Kostas Sloukas added 11 points in helping the Greece maintain a 100% winning record in the group. Serbia dropped to 4-3 despite Bogdan Bogdanovic picking up 19 points - albeit on just 6 of 19 shooting - while Nemanja Bjelica had 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists in the defeat.
They became the second team to move to 7-0 after Germany did so earlier in Estonia.
Turning point: The game had 14 lead changes and it was tied at 57-57 with 6 minutes to go. But then Greece went on an 11-2 run over the next 5 minutes to take control of the game 68-59 with a minute to play.
Game hero: Ioannis Bourousis was everywhere for the Greeks as the veteran big man flirted with a triple-double as he secured 9 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks.
Stats don't lie: Greece shot nearly 47 percent from the field while holding Serbia to just 36 percent, including 27 percent from long range. That shooting percentage was not enough even though Serbia committed just 5 turnovers.
Bottom line: Greece took a huge step towards the World Cup with a 7-0 record in Group L - even with Germany. Serbia have now registered three losses and next host Estonia in Belgrade on Sunday. Greece will look to make it 8 for 8 on Sunday at 3-4 Georgia.
They said: "I would like to say a big congratulations to the previous teams that brought us to a 6-0 record. Today was a very hard and difficult game against Serbia, they are a very strong team. Eighty percent of our success tonight was due to the players who played in the first six games. Tonight we played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion, and we managed to get a difference in the score in the third quarter and we kept that until the end of the game. - Greece center Ioannis Bourousis
"It was a tough one for us today. We played very bad. First of all we played bad defensively. And offensively we played very slow. We need to improve this for our next game because this is not how we play, this is not how we practice. We need to improve that part of our game in the next games. I believe in our team and I think we can beat anybody if we play our game. But today we were not ourselves. We didn't play how we know, and this is why we lost." - Serbia center Nikola Milutinov
"I believe Greece played tougher today. In certain moments of the game they were very strong physically on the floor, which is needed for games like this. We didn't show our best pace. Offensively, the ball was not moving, we were very slow. This is something that we tried to talk about and practice. This is not how we play, not how we practice. Usually we have the most assists with around 30 and today we had less than half that (14). And this is not good. Of course this is due also to the Greek defense but something on our side needs to be done better. (In addition) Our defensive mistakes, we knew the cuts and offensive rebounds from the weak side would be their best weapon after good defense from our side. And this is exactly what happened. On the other side late, the game was tied, the ball was flowing. We passed the ball and we just missed an easy layup from Jovic and a dunk from Milutinov. And our morale was not high after we made those mistakes." - Serbia head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic