Maltsi On Target As Greece Win
The Evina Maltsi show was the main attraction again at the EuroBasket Women on Saturday as Greece defeated the Czech Republic to keep their hopes of reaching the Quarter-Finals alive.
Maltsi, playing against some of her ZVVZ USK Prague teammates, hit five shots from long range and finished with 24 points as Greece won 62-45.
The Greeks can now reach the Quarter-Finals if they win against Slovakia in their last Group E game. They desperately want to stay in Latvia.
"At past EuroBaskets, I was ready to go home and enjoy the summer," Maltsi said.
"This time, my teammates and I were talking and saying how we want to stay.
"This has been the best EuroBasket Women I've played at in terms of the teams being level but also the organization."
"I must congratulate my players," Greece coach Kostas Missas said.
"They stayed focused on offense and defense for 40 minutes.
"It was important to keep their players out of the paint and the defense did that."
Greece opened up a 30-22 advantage at half-time but the Czechs emerged from the changing rooms with renewed focus on both ends of the floor and went on a 12-4 run to knot the contest at 34-34.
The Czechs' Tereza Peckova scored six points in that spurt while Jana Vesela's free throws capped the run to make it 34-34.
Maltsi, as she has all tournament for Greece, came to the fore.
She buried her fourth three-pointer for a 37-34 lead and Greece kept their noses in front the rest of the way.
Greece took a 42-38 advantage to the fourth quarter after Afrodite Kosma's three-pointer.
The Czechs cut the deficit to 42-40 on a Katerina Elhotova lay-up but Pelagia Papamichail replied with a shot down low for Greece and then Maltsi drilled another three for a 47-40 lead.
Eva Viteckova's jumper with 4:54 remaining closed the gap 51-45 but Greece shut the Czechs down for the remainder of the game.
"Today was an example that anyone can play basketball as the second tallest team in the tournament met the shortest team," said Missas, whose team finished level with the Czechs in the rebounding department at 38-38.
"It proves that you don't need height.
"What you need is brain and heart. I think my team showed that."
The Czech Republic went into the EuroBasket knowing it was going to be extremely difficult without veteran point guard Hana Horakova and center Ivana Vecerova.
Both are expected to play at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that is being staged in the Czech Republic.
"We had problems with our offense," Czech star Eva Vitekcova said.
"To score just 45 points is terrible. We just couldn't stop Maltsi while Greece had other players contributing on offense."
After suffering heart-breaking Group B defeats to Poland and Latvia in Liepaja and then crashing to a heavy loss against Spain in the Qualifying Round, the Greeks showed they have a pulse.