Greece, Slovakia Look To Bounce Back
Slovakia and Greece traded blows in the Qualifying Round of the EuroBasket Women and the latter prevailed in a thriller that helped catapult them into the Quarter-Finals.
Now the two will meet again in a vital Classification Round clash that each needs to win to maintain hope of achieving a fifth-place finish to qualify for next year's FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic.
Both the Slovakians and the Greeks go into the contest on the back of heartbreaking defeats that ended their medal hopes.
On Wednesday, Pokey Chatman's Slovakians fell in overtime to Belarus, 70-68, while Greece led France for most of the game on Thursday but fell in the final minutes, 51-49.
The side that prevails in this Classification Round game will take on the winner of the contest between the other two Quarter-Final losers, Italy and tournament hosts Latvia.
The side that finishes fifth will also qualify automatically for the 2011 EuroBasket Women.
"It never changes for me," Chatman said before the Greek game.
"Maybe I'm Americanized in that sense. The goal for me every time we've played was to improve upon the last time we stepped on the court - rebounds, court spacing, staying organized. If you take care of those basketball things, then the opponent doesn't matter, the score is in your favor.
"The first focus will be rest, recovery, revujenate - not necessarily re-focus because the focus is there.
"When we step on the court, we have to carry those things out. And that's part of the maturation process."
Slovakia have had an extra day to rest for the game following their setback to Belarus. Greece will be back on court less than 24 hours after their defeat to France.
Last Time Out: Greece edged Slovakia 59-57 in the Qualifying Round on June 15.
Stats: Evina Maltsi went into Greece's Quarter-Final against France scoring a tournament-best 22.7 points per game but was held to 18 on five of 15 shooting. She did make all seven of her free throws against the French. Maltsi is hitting 95.5% (21 of 22) of her shots at the charity strip - tops in the EuroBasket Women.
Key Match-Up: Zuzana Zirkova v Evina Maltsi. Both players have been so good on both ends of the floor that they will merit strong consideration for the all-tournament team.
X-Factor: Dimitra Kalentzou is the Greece point guard and is sure to face intense Slovakia pressure from the likes of Jana Carnoka. The Greeks need a steady performance from their playmaker to have a chance.
Sounding Off: "Making it to the Quarter-Finals and challenging France as we did, we gained the respect of everybody. Nobody thought Greece could make it so far. We played good defense. We have two more games to do our best" - Greece's Pelagia Papamichail.