By Yarone Arbel
Turning point: Tip off was actually the turning point of the game, as Greece took over right from the start. Vasilis Spanoulis hit 11 first quarter points and Greece held an 18-3 lead after five minutes that kept increasing more and more until 28-10 right before the quarter buzzer. From there it was a one sided game, all the way to the 86-54 opening win.
Hero: Ioannis Bouroursis of Greece was the main reason his team enjoyed such a smooth start. The first play of Greece in the competition was to push the ball to him in the paint for a successful post-up move, and from there he continued to be a big presence on both ends of the floor. He locked the paint for the opponent to penetrate, controlled the rebounds and scored in great ease on the other side on his way to a great stat line of 11 points and eight rebounds.
Stats: F.Y.R. Of Macedonia didn't score a single two-point bucket the entire first quarter, in only three attempts. All their 13 first quarter points came from three point range or the foul line, and it was a great example of how much trouble they faced against the inside players of Greece. Their first basket inside the arc came only after 13 minutes and by then the gap was already 35-15 in favor of Greece.
Greece was all over their neighbors from F.Y.R. of Macedonia on Monday afternoon as they opened EuroBasket 2009 with a convincing 86-54 victory.
Vasilis Spanoulis had 17 points in the win.
There was very little place for doubt who's the boss on the court, as the Greeks wrote a double-digit gap already
in the early minutes.
|Greece Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas had his troops in top form.|
The players of Jovica Arsic didn't find the way to handle the massive front line of Greece, and scored their first two-point basket only after 13 minutes in the game, and by then the margin was already 20.
Vasilis Spanoulis was the top scorer for Greece with 17 points and four rebounds, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Ioannis Bourousis added 11 each while Efstratios Perperoglou added 10.
Jeremiah Massey led F.Y.R Of Macedonia with 12 points, and was the only player to score in double-digits.
"It was tough night for us. Our defense was horrible, and when you play like that you don't deserve to win," easily concluded Massey.
Coach Arsic wasn't trying to hide anything as well.
"Our defense wasn't good enough and without good defense we can't beat anybody, not only Greece," he said.
"Simply Greek team is much-much better than us."
Greece took over the game right from tip off.
Their bigs made the paint crowded and all of shots by F.Y.R of Macedonia in the starting minutes came from outside.
All went out other than a single three pointer by Todor Gecevski, while Greece used nine points by Spanoulis to take an 18-3 lead after five minutes.
Stefanov broke the silence with a three pointer of his own, but the paint remained a Greek territory, and the gap jumped to 23-6.
"I'm very happy how we started this game and competition," shared Kazlauskas.
"It was the best game we played so far since we started the preparation.
"We never relaxed and continued until the last seconds to play with intensity, and that's the best part of our game today."
Bourousis from distance and Sofoklis Schrotsanitis in the paint pushed the gap to 18, before Antic sealed the quarter with a crazy three pointer to make it 28-13.
F.Y.R. Of Macedonia still couldn't find the way to the rim, and reached no less than 14 three point attempts in 14 minutes.
Predrag Samardziski came in and made a difference inside the point, by scoring six in a row near the rim, but Greece were in a different sphere as Bourousis and Spanoulis reached double-figures and made it a 44-19 game.
Schortsanitis finished a big alley-hoop play to silence the fans that came from Skopje, but Massey showed his own style with a power slam in the fast break, to write the best play of the game yet, but not enough to enter the break well, as Greece were up 52-28.
The one-sided game remained in the second half, when the students of Jonas Kazlauskas pushed the margin above the 30 point line.
"We were well prepared to this game and the scouting helped us win it in such difference," summarized Antonios Fotsis of Greece.
Greece's biggest win ever in EuroBaskets was in 1951 when they beat Portugal by 46 points.
In some moments it seemed like a record could be registered today, but Massey and Gecevski collected points, and Greece took the foot off the gas,