Greece stay undefeated against Croatia, punch Paris 2024 ticket

    3 min to read
    Game report
    Greece have qualified for the Paris Olympics

    The FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Greece 2024 ended with an all-European classic, as Greece outlasted Croatia and booked their first trip to the Summer Olympics since 2008.

    PIRAEUS (Greece) - The drought is over! Greece will head to their first Olympics in 16 years, enjoying the standing ovation of the 11,810 fans at the Peace and Friendship Stadium as they defeated Croatia 80-69 in the Final of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Greece 2024.

    It will also mark the first time in Giannis Antetokounmpo's career that he appears at the Olympics, adding another stellar name to an already impressive long list of previously qualified teams and players.

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    Turning point

    Greece opened up a 6-point lead at the break, and the teams traded buckets to start the third. When Croatia reduced the gap to a 4-point deficit midway through the third, coach Vasilis Spanoulis decided to dial number 8.

    Nick Calathes answered the call. He had taken care of ball distribution in the first half with 6 assists, and then detonated for 11 points within six-and-a half-minutes in the third stanza to propel Greece to a 60-50 lead.

    It was soon a 14-point game, and even though Croatia tried a bit of everything in the final quarter, it was to no avail. The gap remained in double digits, giving Greece a 15-13 all-time lead against their fellow European juggernauts.

    TCL Player of the Game

    The obvious mismatch was the battle of the point guards, and Croatia tried matching up with Thomas Walkup and Nick Calathes by playing without a typical 'one' position, pairing up Mateo Dreznjak and Jaleen Smith.

    However, Calathes was unbothered. The Greek point god controlled the pace of the game brilliantly, finishing with 14 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds.

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    Stats don't lie

    It's impossible to defeat anybody these days if you're shooting 5-of-19 from beyond the arc, and especially if those five makes are by just two players - in Croatia's case, those two were Dario Saric and Mateo Dreznjak.

    The rest of the Croatian team shot 1-of-11 from three-point range.

    Greece connected on 12-of-32 of their shots from the same distance, finishing off their impressive shooting run at this tournament.

    Bottom line

    Greece will now join the Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024 Group A, alongside previously qualified Australia and Canada. The fourth member of the group would be the winner of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Spain 2024.

    Croatia could not repeat their success from 2008 and 2016, but coach Josip Sesar must be proud of the way his team performed in Greece.

    They put Ivica Zubac on Giannis Antetokounmpo and waited for the Milwaukee Bucks megastar in the painted area, but he still finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds.

    Croatia's gambles on Calathes and especially Georgios Papagiannis (4-of-5 from deep in the first half alone) did not pay off, as the hosts blasted to a double digit lead and did not look back.

    Ivica Zubac had 19 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort.

    They said

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