|05 July 2010|
Don't look now, but the Greeks could be the team to beat again at the U20 European Championship.
Kostas Missas, who led the team to gold at last year's U20 European Championship in Rhodes, appears to have the team turning on all cylinders again ahead of this years' event which tips off on Thursday in Croatia.
The Greeks beat Turkey and whipped Italy in their last two games at the Makarska tournament, a warm-up event for the U20 Championship.
Nikos Pappas had 22 points to lead the Greek onslaught in a 107-63 demolition of the Italians on Sunday.
Pappas, who led Greece to the under-20 title last year and has been named in the country's preliminary squad for the FIBA World Championship, wasn't the only one to torment the Italians.
Leonidas Kaselakis, another of the gold-medal winners from last year's event in Rhodes, had 18 points.
Greece had overcome Turkey on Saturday, 65-56, when yet another of last year's heroes, Kostas Papanikolaou, poured in 15 points.
On Saturday, Croatia thumped Italy 77-70 with Leon Radosevic scoring 19 points, and both Tomislav Zubcic and Mario Delas contributing 14 apiece.
Delas then poured in 23 points on Sunday as Croatia beat Turkey, 82-70.
Ilkan Karaman finished with 13 points for Turkey.
The Croatians were the only team to go undefeated at Makarska.
They had defeated Greece on Friday, 77-61.
Greece are in Group A with Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Latvia while Croatia are in Group D with Germany, Slovenia and Spain.
Turkey are in Group B with Montenegro, Lithuania and Serbia while Italy are in Group C with the Netherlands, France and Russia.
Meanwhile, Lithuania have built some momentum ahead of the U20 European Championship by beating hosts Spain 91-79 on the last day of the Torneo Internacional de Arganda.
The 2.03m power forward Eimantas Bendzius erupted for a team-high 21 points for Lithuania.
Bendzius is a player to watch for Lithuania.
He competed for them at last year's FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand, averaging 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Lithuania, Spain and the Czech Republic finished 2-1 in the Arganda event while France lost all three of their games.