Greece Roll Over Lithuania, Make Quarter-Finals


by Paul Nilsen

Greek coach Dimitris Bakogeorgos was looking forward to a rest day for his overworked starting players after they made the final eight courtesy of a 65-37 demolition of Lithuania to set up a quarter-final tie with Belgium.

Once again the play-caller relied heavily on key assets such as center Artemis Spanou who came up with another stellar display to finish with a monstrous double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds.

"The rest day tomorrow is very good for my starting five players. I have to play them a lot of minutes to get us into this position."

"It will be very important for them as I know after maybe 36 hours they will be ready to go again for the team."

The assessment of his teams efforts was almost a mirror image of how the Coach evaluated his tams performance against Poland earlier in the week and he was once again far from happy.

"I can not understand this team. I really can not. It is impossible for me as a coach. It is the same situation. Against Lithuania today we were very bad. We can not play well against the lesser teams."

"We only play good against the good teams and my players have to learn this. Belgium will be difficult but we will win."

With Lithuania already out of the quarter final reckoning, logic dictated that Greece would make sure they qualified. However Lithuania were still smarting from their last gasp loss against Czech Republic and still looking for a first win in the Qualifying Round.

Consequently it promised to be a difficult game for both teams for very different reasons but that promise proved false as Lithuania surrendered and Greece walked into the last eight.

There was very little in the game on the opening moments, both teams struggling offensively at 7-7 until Greece came alive and Dimitra Kampouraki and Grigoria Pateraki combined for 16 points with some nice shooting from inside.

While Greece may well have led 20-11 at the end of the first quarter, Coach Bakogeorgos can't have been happy with his teams perimeter shooting again as they wasted 7 of 8 attempts.

Lithuania meanwhile continued the on dimensional approach that had summarised their entire time in tournament. Continually trying to get to the hoop and showing a persistent reluctance to offer anything at all from the perimeter.

In the second quarter Greece continued to dominate the play, looking inside for Spanou and she put her team 24-14 ahead with a put back. It was still double digits at 28-17 with Spanou looking difficult to stop and having scored 8 points in the quarter.

However Lithuania rallied and scored six of the last eight points in the half to win the quarter and narrow to 30-23 in the process.

While the inside game of Lithuania might have worked against soft-centered teams such as Germany earlier in the tournament, their strategy looked doomed to failure against a more physical team like Greece and in the third quarter this became even more obvious.

Greece dominated and won the penultimate period 19-8 meaning they were 18 ahead and the game was all over by the time the final ten minutes arrived. Lithuania struggled to cope with the presence in the paint and had the Greeks made some outside shots it could have been far worse.

In fact it soon became exactly that as Lithuania went into meltdown in the last ten minutes. They were outscored by ten points as Greece went into auto pilot and landed into the final eight.

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