By Jeff Taylor
It had to happen again, didn’t it?
Yes, Spain v Greece – a clash of European giants for the second time at EuroBasket 2007.
It is a rematch of the world title game last year in Japan, when Spain overcame the loss of Pau
Gasol to injury and, behind the incredible play of Jorge Garbajosa, destroyed the Greeks to capture gold.
|Papaloukas struggled for the most part against Slovenia but came up with the goods when it counted.|
Earlier in this tournament, in the qualifying round, Spain defeated Greece 76-58 at the Telefonica Arena.
On Saturday, the game will be at the Palacio Deportes, and the Greeks will hit the court just 20 hours after their stunning come-from-behind victory over Slovenia.
Theo Papaloukas scored 17 points, most of them late in the fourth quarter, as Greece fought back from a 16-point deficit to win 63-62.
Papaloukas put Greece into the lead and scored the final points of the game with a drive to the basket just six seconds from the end.
"If anybody has a heart problem, and this game was difficult for him, we would like to apologize,” Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis said.
“Basketball is a game until the last second.”
Spain will have had almost two days rest after their comprehensive victory over Germany, and they will have the majority of spectators inside the 15,000-seat arena pulling for them.
Last result: Spain beat Germany 83-55, Greece edged Slovenia 63-62.
Key Match-up: Dimitris Diamantidis v Jose Calderon. Diamantidis had his worst game of the tournament against Slovenia and will be anxious to get back on the floor and prove he is the best defensive guard in Europe. Calderon has been the best player in the EuroBasket. Not only has he been lighting a fire under his team-mates with his extraordinary defense and his explosive drives to the basket. Calderon has been hitting three-pointers, 10 of 23 (43%) overall.
Key Stat: Dimos Dikoudis has been one of Greece’s top players at the EuroBasket, but in the first game against Spain he scored no points and pulled down just three rebounds in 10 minutes. The 2.05m power forward must play one of best game of the tournament against Spain to improve his team’s chances.
X-Factor: Theo Papaloukas. The man called “the best player in Europe” by Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis after Friday’s amazing win over Slovenia looks tired. He’s like a race car that is out of fuel and running on fumes. There were just enough fumes for him to lead his team to the chequered flag against the Slovenians, but will Papaloukas have energy against Spain?
Speaking out: “We need to rest and play with our hearts out tomorrow. Basketball isn't about revenge, but we have a chance to play them again and show we can beat them." – Nikos Zisi