By Cindy Garcia-Bennett
European champions Greece went on a decisive run at the start of the second quarter en route to an 85-67 win against Portugal on Tuesday at the EuroBasket.
Portugal led 17-15 with two minutes to go in the first quarter but Greece hit them with a 16-2 run over the next seven minutes to take command.
The Portuguese never controlled Dimos Ntikoudis, who led the Greeks in scoring with 17
points and nine rebounds.
|Portugal would not go quietly as Filipe da Silva helped lead the offense behind five assists.|
"We played the game really tough," said Greek captain Michail Kakiouzis, who contributed eight points.
"And if we play the rest of the games like this, we won't have any problems.
"Game by game, we're getting better, we're finding solutions on offense and that helped us on defense today, too. I hope and I think we will play better in the next games.
"We have really big confidence right now."
Despite trailing 45-34 at half-time, Portugal never gave up and cut the deficit to 45-37 early in the third quarter but the Greeks replied with a 6-0 run to stamp their authority on the contest.
Paolo Cunha's jumper with three minutes to go in the quarter gave Portugal a glimmer of hope, cutting the deficit to 54-47, but that soon faded away with Greece hitting them with a 10-0 run.
Greece led by as many as 21 points (75-54) with less than five minutes remaining but suffered a setback with Michailis Pelekanos having to leave the game after sustaining an ankle injury.
Questions about his fitness will now worry the Greeks as they prepare for the quarter-finals.
Greece were superior shooting the ball.
They were 29 of 48 (60%) from the floor while their opponents were 21 of 58 (36%).
Greece outrebounded Portugal 37 to 24.
Joao Santos had a team-high 17 points in defeat.
Portugal, because of the defeat, will not advance to the quarter-finals.
Portuguese forward Joao Gomes, who had tryouts with NBA clubs before this year's NBA draft, said: "We knew it was going to be a tough game against a team like Greece, but we played well for a while and we're proud of our performance throughout this tournament.
"To make it to the second phase of the competition is a big deal for Portuguese basketball and hopefully it can help the sport grow."