Greece Strolls Past Hungary
Greece may lack size, but they have plenty of heart and that was on full display in Latvia on Sunday as they hammered Hungary 59-43.
In the EuroBasket Women Group B opener for both sides at the Liepaja Olympic Center, the perimeter-oriented Greeks shut down Laszlo Ratgeber's team for 20 minutes en route to a 34-12 lead and they did more than enough the rest of the way.
Styliani Kaltsidou and Evina Maltsi provided the points with 19 apiece but it was the defense that made all the difference in the first half when the game was won.
"Their 12 points in the first half was more to do with us than Hungary," said Kaltsidou, who signed with French giants Bourges a month ago.
"They showed how good they were in the second half when maybe we didn't play as well."
Greece forced Hungary to commit eight turnovers in the first quarter and by half-time, that number had grown to 12.
Hungary came out at the start of the third quarter a different team and made things interesting by going on a 16-4 run to close the gap to 40-28.
Maltsi, who missed her first six attempts from three-point range, finally connected from behind the arc to stop the bleeding for Greece.
As the ball fell through the hoop, Maltsi turned around with clinched fists and pumped them into the air while letting out a loud shout.
"I was awful shooting the ball," she said. "But my teammates did well."
Greece ended up taking a 44-32 lead to the third quarter.
Hungary still showed signs of life and trimmed the deficit to 46-35 after an Anna Vida free throw, but they missed several opportunities to get closer and a Dimitra Kalentzou three-pointer for Greece extended the advantage back to 14 with 6:00 to go.
The Greeks pulled away for a decisive triumph.
"We are a very young team," Hungary forward Anna Vajda said.
"I think the team was scared going into the first game. The last time we played at a EuroBasket was in 2003 so we don't have much experience."
Kalentzou had an outstanding game for Greece. She had a team-high three steals to go with her nine points.
Zsofia Fegyverneky was the only Hungary player to hit double figures with 11 points.
Vajda, the EuroLeague Women All-Star of MiZo Pecs 2010, scored nine.
Hungary did win the battle of the boards, hauling in 43 rebounds to 36 for the Greeks.
Ratgeber will know that his team has to attack the basket more if they are going to have a chance in their last two games against Latvia and Poland.
They made just one trip to the line with Bernadett Nemeth splitting a pair of free-throws.