By Jeff Taylor
Greece knew that advancing to the quarter-final round would be anything but straightforward after losing Antonis Fotsis in the build-up to the EuroBasket to a broken finger.
It is no surprise, then, that they must beat a dangerous Portugal side on Tuesday to reach the last eight.
The defending champions showed signs they may be returning to the form that saw them win the title two years ago and then stun Team USA at last year's FIBA World Championship in Japan.
Portugal, meanwhile, are on an emotional high after keeping their quarter-final hopes alive with a surprise win over Israel.
|Evora must make Papadopoulos|
work hard for his points today
“Playing Greece, now, will be our final,” said Portugal’s outstanding point guard Filipe da Silva.
Even if the Portuguese do not reach the last eight, the effort of this year’s team has been one of, if not the proudest moment, in the country’s basketball history.
Last result: Portugal 95 Israel 87; Greece 81 Croatia 78.
Key Match-up: Elvis Evora v Lazaros Papadopoulos. Just when we thought the 2.10m Greek center Papadopoulos wasn’t going to be much of a factor in the tournament, coach Panagiotis Yannakis made him the number one option against Croatia and he scored the majority of his 22 points in the first half. Evora is big, strong and plays with passion. He must push Papadopoulis off the low blocks and make him take difficult shots.
Key Stats: Dimitrios Diamantidis is the best defensive player in Europe, but he is able to provide points when called upon as he did against Croatia. He connected on four of seven attenots from three-point territory and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Speaking out: “We still have a chance to reach the quarter-finals, and it’s not just a dream, but a possibility. Of course, we are facing one of the strongest teams and know what we are up against, but we are confident. For us, this game will be a learning process.” – Portugal’s Joao Santos.