Greece took a great win in Day 2 of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship after a big thriller, beating Serbia 59-57 on Friday afternoon at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The win lifts Greece to a 2-0 record, enough to secure their spot in the Qualifying Round, while Serbia dropped to 1-1 before the deciding Day 3 tomorrow.
|Greece Head Coach George Vlassopoulos likes the way his team approaches the games so far|
The Greek team won the game in a very familiar way - tough and aggressive team defense.
Serbia didn't score a point in the last 3:36 minutes of the game, and failed to convert also on the last play to force over time.
A big eruption of joy was spotted on the Greek bench with the final buzzer.
"This win is very special for us," explained coach George Vlassopoulos of the Greek team.
"There are 7 players on the team that play the European Championship for the first time, and we didn't come here with big expectations.
"Serbia was the clear favorite, but with strong defense and Greek style basketball we found the way to win."
Linos Chrysikopoulos was a one-man-show for the winners with 25 points, 8 rebounds and a great all-around game while Anastasios Antonakis added 10.
Serbia hit only 3 three pointers in 14.3% the whole game and saw only Marko Gujanicic reach double-digits with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Greece had a slow start and scored only 9 points in the first quarter against 14 for Serbia, but managed to control the tempo, and drag their opponent to a slow pace game.
Chrysikopoulos played in every possible position and created points for himself and his team-mates, while Serbia struggled to find the net, but still held a 24-31 lead at the break.
The big change came in the 3rd quarter when Serbia went scoreless for almost 4 minutes, and Greece used it to spurt to a 10-0 run and take a 36-33 lead.
Gujanicic replied and Nikola Siladi scored a rare three pointer to put Serbia back on top, but the upset was already in the air.
Serbia held on to the lead until Chrysikopoulos tied it at 55-55 from the free throw line, before Gujanicic hit a jumper which turned out to be the last points for Serbia.
Chrysikopoulos with a great drive tied the score once more to clear the stage for Georgios Mavrogiannis.
The 1.92m guard scored only 2 points until that point, and just a single bucket in the first day, but just when needed he stepped up with a pair from the charity stripe, to put Greece above for the last time, before a drought of points on both ends in the closing 2:35 minutes.
Tomorrow Greece will try to stay perfect against Croatia while earlier in the day Serbia will aim to recover versus Germany.