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Fasoula: ''Greece is back where it deserves to be''
ATHENS (Greece) - The dramatic conclusion to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers will live long in the memory of Maria Fasoula who showed nerves of steel to catapult Greece to the Final Round.
In pursuit of an 18-point victory against Bulgaria and with around a minute to go, the center was called for an offensive foul, prior to turning the ball over on the next offense. It appeared as if an opportunity was slipping through the fingers of Greece.
But Fasoula had other ideas.
"THEY ALL CAME TO ME AND SAID 'YOU GOT THIS'. THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD MISS THE SHOT."
Showing tremendous character and desire, and with just 12 seconds remaining on the game clock, she crashed the glass, pulled down a rebound, sunk the basket and drew a foul. It meant Greece were a tantalizing one point short of their target. She would have a free-throw to come, with her team's fate quite literally in her hands.
"I was definitely stressed in that moment as everyone in my position would have been,” reflected Fasoula.
“But I immediately got over it because I was given so much confidence from my teammates that it felt like I was not alone in shooting the free-throw. It was as if the whole team was shooting with me. They all came to me and said 'you got this'. There was no way I could miss the shot.”
And, she didn't.
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"The feelings I have now are really incredible," smiled Fasoula, who was quick to deflect praise away from her own timely intervention and consider the wider significance of Greece progressing, especially since they didn't participate at the 2019 edition.
"Our soul gave us the qualification, as well as our defense and our will. We had said we would give everything on the floor to achieve it and we did it. We had patience in the match, we read the opponent and qualification came our way.
"I'm so proud and it's a justification of our efforts. We played as a team and we wanted it so much. We were also very happy for Katerina Sotiriou because she is the oldest player in the team and we will all go to the Final Round together."
She added: "Undoubtedly qualification is extremely important for women's basketball in our country. We hope more and more girls get involved in the sport. It is very important what we have achieved in taking the national team back to the Final Round.”
Her sentiments were echoed by teammate Artemis Spanou, who was hugely influential in the victory with her leadership. She claimed that the elements shown during qualification will also serve Greece well when they step out at the main event this summer.
She stated: "It is a great achievement and we wanted it so much. We gave 100 percent to get the victory and the basket difference we wanted.
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"I am incredibly proud of our team. It was a match that was played until the last second and the whole team showed a face that we will need at the Final Round as well. To tell the truth, I was calm throughout the game. I never lost my faith in the team and I passed that on to the girls. We did extremely well and everyone deserves congratulations.
"Also because we did not make it to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019, maybe we were owed some luck," she concluded.