Referees: Dubravko Muhvic (CRO), Vladimir Tsekov (BUL), Petros Christophides (CYP)
Greece Come Through Late To Top Italy
Zisis Sarikopoulos paced four starters in double figures as hosts Greece held on to beat Italy 68-63 and remain undefeated at the U18 European Championship Men.
Sarikopoulos collected 17 points and 11 rebounds while Leonidas Kaselakis had 16 and 11 and Kostas Sloukas added a double-double of his own (11 and 11) for the 3-0 Greeks in the Qualifying Group E.
Nikos Pappas chipped in 10 points and Evangelos Mantzaris contributed nine points and nine assists off the bench, allowing the Greeks to take a giant step towards the semi-finals.
Andrea Muner paced the Italians with 13 points while Pasquale Paolisso added 12 points in a losing effort, dropping Italy to 0-3 in the group.
Pappas gave the hosts the lead early but Alessandro Ramagli's team surged ahead 8-2 with some tough defense. Italy remained determined to ruin the Greek party and the advantage was still 13-7 following Luca Campani's inside basket.
The lead was 13-9 after one period. Greece could get little going from the perimeter and continued to dump the ball into the post where Sarikopoulos kept Greece in the game. Campani knocked down a three-ball to help off-set two baskets by Kaselakis and Italy led 29-26 at the break.
George Vlassopoulos's team showed the Italians what hard-nosed defense is all about, holding Italy without a basket until Nicoló Melli's jumper with 4:22 left in the third. By that time the home fans had willed their Greeks to a 39-29 lead with a 13-0 surge.
Pappas and Kaselakis would then both knock down triples to maintain a double-digit advantage 51-41 after three periods. Mantzaris opened the third with a long ball and the lead was still 59-47. But the Italians fought back into the contest with Muner hitting a three-pointer and David Reginald Cournooh's steal and lay-up cut the deficit to 65-61.
It was 67-63 when Sarikopoulos blocked a Cournooh lay-up attempt with nine seconds left and the Greek big man finished the scoring with a foul shot a second later.