Giannis steps up as Greece escape upset-minded Czechs
BERLIN (Germany) - Greece needed more work than many had thought but got the job done with a hard-fought 94-88 victory over Czech Republic to reach the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Quarter-Finals.
The Greeks used a big fourth quarter to reach the final eight in front of 9,814 spectators at EuroBasket Arena Berlin just hours after Italy shocked major favorites Serbia. Greece also exacted revenge on the Czechs after losing to them in the Final of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020 in Canada to miss the Tokyo Olympics.
Turning Point: The first quarter featured a 10-point Greece lead as well as a 16-2 Czech run to pull ahead. The game remained tight for the rest of the first half and the underdogs led 45-41 at the break. The Czechs' biggest lead was six points but the game went back and forth with 10 lead changes and 7 ties in the middle two quarters. Greece took control by opening the fourth quarter on a 15-3 run to pull ahead 78-70 with under five minutes left. Giannis Antetokounmpo would not let his team lose, answering every Czech score.
TCL Player of the Game: Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to 5 points in the first 23 minutes of the game. But the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player rose his game and finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Tomas Satoransky did not make a major mark scoring wise for Czech Republic with just 3 points but he delivered a tournament single game high of 17 assists in the losing effort. That is the most by any player in a EuroBasket game since FIBA started collecting this data in 1995.
Stats Don't Lie: The Greeks grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to just 7 for Czech Republic, leading to a 19-6 advantage in second chance points. Greece forced 13 Czech turnovers - compared to 8 for Hellas - but they grabbed 19 points off turnovers to 5 for Czech Republic.
Bottom Line: Greece march on into the Quarter-Finals for the eighth time time in the last nine editions still in search of their first title since 2005. Dimitrios Itoudis' men will next take on hosts Germany on Tuesday, September 13. The Czechs will head home having missed out on making the Quarters for the second time following 2015.
They Said: "Defensively we have built back up our confidence in the clutch moments and we managed to get a win against a great team that really has a lot of qualities. We found a good way to defend them with good spacing. In the clutch moments we hit some amazing shots and proved to be better in the end." - Greece coach Dimitrios Itoudis
"The first half we didn't really do a good job defensively, but we turned it around in the second half. We made some good shots and ran on the fast break as much as we could because Czech Republic was playing really good defense. And we got an important win." - Georgios Papagiannis, Greece
"We played against a good team and a good coach. I'm proud of the way we played. The game plan worked to 80-90 percent. We made them shoot more threes than twos. We held them to 31 percent on threes. We can live with that. But in the end, little mistakes and some tiredness of players gave them the win. I am proud of my players and the staff. We did a great job." - Czech Republic coach Ronen Ginzburg
"I feel very proud of my teammates and coaching staff for the way we played today against one of the favorites of the tournament. It was our best game of the tournament: Good defensive mindset for the first three quarters. We were building the wall, like we said against Giannis. That's something you have to do because he’s such an athlete in transition but then risk other players getting open shots. And credit to them, they knocked them down when it mattered most. And they deserve to go to the Quarter-Finals, but we put up a fight. Our last two games were pretty positive." - Tomas Satoransky, Czech Republic