Stakes may be high as Bosnia-Herzegovina face Greece

18.09.2005

By Yarone Arbel

Greece are bracing themselves for an uncomfortable 40 minutes against Bosnia-Herzegovina in final EuroBasket Group C game.

The Greeks played like champions on Friday night in a resounding triumphover France, but were then brushed aside by Slovenia 24 hours later, meaning there is still work to do if they are to survive the group. Should France upset Slovenia with a margin of victory between 11 to 16
points, then Greece can clinch the group and a palce in the quarter-finals if they defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina.

If France win in the first Belgrade game of the day, however, defeat against Damir Mrsic and Co would knock Greece out of the tournament.

Saturday's setback truly stung as Greece simply did not play well, especially on defence.

Greece never allowed the French to get into their rhythm on day one, but Slovenia were not intimidated against Panagiotis Yannakis' men.

"We played much worse last night than we did against France," admitted Nikolaos Chatzivrettas.

"We talked about it in the locker room between us, and know what went wrong. Now we are ready to fix it."

From a statistical point of view, were a woeful three of 21 (14%) from behind the arc and 17 of 28 (60%) at the line.

Slovenia beat them on the boards, grabbing 39 rebounds to just 29 for the Greeks.

Yannakis is not as concerned about the poor shooting as he is by his team's poor defence.

"The game against Slovenia was a lesson for us," Yannakis said. "In basketball there are always ups and downs.

"The problem was we tried to find offensive solutions, and not defensive solutions. Nobody is going to give us anything, we have to take it".

Victory for Bosnia-Herzegovina has not happened at a EuroBasket since 1997, but streaks are meant to be ended and Sunday could be their day.

"We'll try to do the best and surprise the Greek team," said Mrsic.

What might make Bosnia-Herzegovina optimistic is the fact they have averaged more points per game (63.5) than the defensive-minded Greeks, whose 60 points per contest is the lowest in the tournament.

As the game could become do-or-die for both teams, expect a lot of tough and aggressive plays. There is no doubt that players will fight for every ball and possession.

Neither team should be shy about attacking the basket as both teams rank near the bottom in blocked shots.

Both sides have a total of two blocks.

Also, neither has been effective hitting the offensive glass.

Bosnia-Herzegovina are last in that category with 6.5 per game while Greece is 14th with 8.0.

If that continues, then both teams will stress the need to get good shots as there will be no second chances.

Coach Mensur Bajramovic is confident his players can win but they must stay the course which has seen them push Slovenia and France close in their first two games.

"We won't change anything for the game against Greece," he said. "We'll try to give our best again. Greece is in top form, they seem unbeatable, but we'll try to do it."


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