Turkey And Greece Renew Rivalry

18 September 2009
By Yarone Arbel

Spain won bragging rights for the south in the first Quarter-Finals. Croatia and Slovenia will face each other in a game that also carries some historical meaning, and could see them facing another rival in Serbia.

Then there's Greece and Turkey.

None of the other two country pairs match the rivalry between the neighbors separated by the Aegean Sea.

It's Questionable if there's a bigger one throughout the entire continent, probably because the nations on both sides are known for their big passion.

When it comes to basketball that passion is visible on the court, benches and among the fans.

These two teams faced each other six times in the past, but never on such a big stage.

For many years both countries didn't have a big basketball tradition.

Since they entered the center court of Europe they have faced each other only two times, but both in the Preliminary Round.

One game, in the final round, with a shot at a medal on the line is all a basketball fan can ask for.

Thus far we have all the ingredients for a fantastic atmosphere for a basketball game, other than basketball itself, but that department can't deliver any disappointment.

There's little need to present the names that will take the floor.

Nikos Zisis of Greece will play his 100th game with the national team and will hope to have a big celebration, while Turkey will try to avoid one.

They have written their 100th win In EuroBasket history during this championship, but the last loss to Slovenia was their 99th.

In order to avoid a less pleasing anniversary here in Poland, they will have to win the gold.

The first step goes through Greece.

The Greeks have a deeper roster and more players with experience.

Turkey carry big momentum from the two first rounds and a bigger superstar in Hedo Turkoglu.

One aspect that can't be left silent will take place on the sidelines.

Bogdan Tanjevic of Turkey and Jonas Kazlauskas of Greece are two of the top coaches in Europe who are famous not only for their attractive basketball, but also for having those extra spices that make the game more interesting for the fans.

For both teams making it to the semis will be a great success while playing the 5-8 classification games would be a disappointment consider the path they have made thus far.

It's a game nobody can afford to lose but only one team can win.

Head-to-head: The total record between the two archrivals is 4-2 in favor of Greece who won the first game and also the last three in a row. This is the first time the two teams meet twice in the same decade, and all their last three wins Greece scored between 72-75 points.

Last time out: Greece were edged by France 71-69 to miss the first spot in Group E and drop down to third place. Turkey as well suffered a two point loss, 69-67, to Slovenia. It was Turkey's first loss in the tournament.

Stats: Turkey and Greece wrote almost identical numbers in lots of stat categories both on offense and defense. Points and field goal percentage on both ends of the floor, rebounds, assists, turnovers and made shots from any range. Both sides reached very close numbers. One aspect does differ between them. Greece draw five fouls more per game and go to the line seven times more. Turkey don't have the longest bench here, and if Greece could get them in foul trouble it will play a key role, but that would have to go hand in hand with good accuracy from the line.

Key Match-Up: Omer Asik and Semih Erden are the two twin towers of Turkey and excel on the defensive end. Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Ioannis Bourousis are the Greek bigs and they are offensive oriented. The Turks are longer. The Greeks are wider. The Turks bring 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 1.3 bpg. The Greek duo carries 22.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 0.7 bpg. If the wind blows in the offensive oriented direction of Greece or the defensive mind of Turkey will be decided greatly with these two duos.

X-Factor: In his 100th game with the national team Nikos Zisis needs to be in good form. In the last two games of Greece, their only two losses of the tournament, he wrote his competition low with three and four points while making only one field goal attempt in ten attempts. He also didn't dish even a single assist. Another bad day by Zisis will make things a lot more difficult for Greece to prevail.

Sounding-Off: "This is a basketball game. Very important one in the Quarter-Finals of EuroBasket but nothing more than that, and we'll try to win it just like we want to win any other game." - Turkey's Hedo Turkoglu.


20.09.2009 - By David Hein
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