Trailing for most of the fourth quarter in a tight contest, Greece fought back to defeat Italy 73-70 in the quarter-final round of the UMCOR U18 European Championship Men.
Greece took their first lead of the fourth quarter with 3:24 to go in the game when Marios Sakellarakis hit a mid-range corner jumper and the Greeks would maintain that lead for the rest of the game.
|Lorenzo D'Ercole of Italy dives for a loose ball.|
With Greece leading 70-68 and just under one minute remaining, Italy's Pietro Aradori's was stripped of the ball on a drive to the basket.
Aradori recovered the loose ball, but the 24 second clock sounded and Greece had the ball up by two with 28.7 seconds to go.
Ioannis Karavasanis was fouled after receiving the inbound pass and calmly hit both free throws to give his team a four-point advantage with 27 seconds to go, 72-68.
Italy’s Daniele Bonessio connected on a tough drive to the basket to cut the deficit to two with 12 seconds remaining.
Greece's Michail Giannakidis was promptly fouled and made one of two free throws to make it a one possession game with nine seconds to go (73-70).
Greece fouled Giovanni Tomassini three seconds later, but the 186-cm guard missed both free throws. Neither team could retain the rebound, but the ball went out of bounds off of Greece so Italy had one final hope to tie the game with 2.2 seconds to go.
|Alexandros Sigkounas scored 17 for Greece.|
“After the win over Russia, there was lots of pressure on us,” explained Greek head coach Manos Manouselis.
“But they handled that pressure and did what they had to win, especially on defense.”
“It wasn’t an easy game, but we won this game because of how we played in the final minutes,” added Greece’s Alexandros Sigkounas.
After a thrashing from Serbia & Montenegro in their opening game, Greece has now won three straight and appear to have confidence as they head into their final quarter-final round match-ups against Lithuania and France.
“These are 18 year old kids, so they can get and lose confidence very quickly,” said Manouselis.
Once again, it was a complete team effort as Greece had balanced scoring.
Giannakidis finished with 20, Sigkounas 17 and Ionnis Karavasanis tallied 13.
“The concept of team play is important for us,” said Manouselis.
“Every letter is capitalised.”
Aradori tallied 16 points to lead Italy in scoring for the fourth consecutive game, but struggled shooting just 5-of-21 overall from the field.