Greece And Slovenia Meet For Control Of Group C

17 September 2005

The big winner of Group C on day 1 was the Greek team after their mauling of France. The pre-game hype said that both Greece and France would be medal contenders, but on the court there was only one team that looked capable of honours, and that was Greece.

The Greek defense was the key and it managed to hold a team with 3 NBA players to just 50 points.

Coach Panagiotis Yannakis knows his team must keep it up for their big game on Saturday against Slovenia: "The first half last night was amazing. The boys put great energy on court. They were concentrated, but we have to be more concentrated against Slovenia. When you have already won the last match, it's logical to be a little more relaxed. The pressure is a little smaller".

One of the best things Greece did against France was stopping France's point guard Tony Parker. Yannakis plans the same experience for Slovenia's Jaka Lakovic. "As I have said before with Parker, those are great players. We can't give them any room, but this will be a team effort. We have to block their spaces, and block their teammates, who are trying to create spaces for them".

Center Lazaros Papadopoulos knows what it will take to chalk up a second win in two days: "We must do same things as we did last night. Control the boards and not allow Slovenia to run the fast break. If we play like we did against France I don't think we'll have problems".

Vasileios Spanoulis, one of the newer faces on the Greek squad, admits that he was surprised how easily France went down, but is already looking forward to the challenge posed by Slovenia: "We didn't expect such an easy win over France, but I think we were the ones that made the French team play so bad. Maybe we can do the same tonight".

Slovenia will step on the court tonight with a lot of positive energy after the win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the support in the stands from their large contingent of fans. More than 70 buses made the way from Slovenia to Belgrade, and  until Serbia & Montenegro arrive to the capital city, Belgrade belongs to Slovenia.

On Saturday the Slovenian fans will have a big battle against the Greek fans, one of the best and loudest groups of fans in the world. The Slovenian supporters will outnumber their Greek counterparts, but with first place in the group at stake, the Greeks will no doubt make themselves heard.

Coach Ales Pipan gives a lot of respect to the Greek team: "The Greek team is the most experienced in the group. They play hard defense, have a specific way of attacking and play very tough. They won all those last friendly games, so it seems they are in top form, so I expect the game tomorrow to be very similar to tonight's game, with maybe tougher defense. It is an open game".

Slovenia spread the scoring load last night between four players - Jaka Lakovic, Erazem Lorbek, Primoz Brezec and Bostjan Nachbar - who all scored 12 to 16 points, and showed great team effort and fighting spirit.

One of the main factors will be rebounding.

Greece will present big men Papadopoulos and Michail Kakiouzis and have capable back up in  Dimitrios Diamantidis, who grabbed 9 rebounds against France. Slovenia has a massive front line with Radoslav Nesterovic, Primoz Brezec, Erazem Lorbek and Bostjan Nachbar. Last night Slovenia pulled down 31 defensive rebounds, more than any other team on the first day of EuroBasket 2005.


27.09.2005 - By Jeff Taylor, PA Sport
24.09.2005 - By Simon Wilkinson, PA Sport

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