Greece kept touch with unbeaten Latvia by keeping their perfect run alive after a thrilling end to their 82-81 victory over France.
A tight game throughout burst into life in the final quarter as Greece looked for the win they needed to keep them top of Group E and France fought for a victory they needed to keep their semi-final chances alive.
|Koufos was the star once again for Greece with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks. |
One of the stars of the championships so far, Konstantinos Koufos, had another huge game with 25 points, ten rebounds and seven blocks. It was one of those blocks which kept his side in front with two seconds left and effectively won the tie for Greece.
For the French side Edwin Jackson scored well with 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the reigning champions’ second defeat of the tournament.
Neither side could get away from each other during the first half, as the lead changed hands 13 times in total and the biggest lead either side could manage was six points.
France started to dominate in the third with Edwin Jackson scoring well, ending the quarter six points ahead.
But the game really went up a gear in the final quarter, as between 9:44 and 8:03 remaining in the game Greece hit three treys on the trot through Marios Matalon, Charalampos Giannopoulos and finally Nikolaos Pappas to re-take the lead 65-64.
France took control again soon after when a good run to the basket from Antione Diot ended in a lay-up whilst drawing the foul, putting Les Bleus ahead again 71-70.
It was the start of a good run for the French who got to the Greek basket at will, while Greece seemed content to shoot unsuccessfully from outside.
It meant that with 1:51 remaining France had a sound looking 81-72 lead.
But Greece came back again, and with 29 seconds to go Konstantinos Sloukas got to the basket and drew the extra shot to tie the game up again at 81 apiece.
It was here that Diot held on to the ball to run down the clock before passing to Luc Louvés who looked certain to put the ball home before Koufos smashed it away and as Symeon Ioakeimidis broke with the ball Greece won the foul and France called timeout.
When the players returned to the court for the free throws you could have cut the atmosphere in the arena with a knife as the first one bounced away from the rim.
Ioakeimidis sunk the second to go 82-81, leaving France to try from distance through Raphael Wilson but his shot missed and the Greek team went crazy.
Only one team will be able to finish the group unbeaten as Greece face undefeated Latvia tomorrow.