EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015
|Pelagia Papamichail and her teammates celebrate their triumph and return to the EuroBasket Women final round|
After suffering the disappointment of missing out on a berth at EuroBasket Women 2013, Greece have made amends by becoming the first team to successfully qualify for EuroBasket Women 2015.
Despite losing 57-56 to Poland in the second leg of the EuroBasket Women 2015 First Qualification Round Final, there was still joy for Greek head coach George Dikeoulakos and his players in Wladyslawowo, as they punched their ticket having won the first game by 15 points.
However, it wasn't all smooth going for Greece, who had some tricky waters to navigate and particularly when they had to bench star player Zoi Dimitrakou for a long spell in the first-half after three quick fouls.
Meanwhile it was a frustrating night for Poland, since they gave themselves a dream start with a 10-2 run from tip-off. But, Greece replied with 10 of the next 12 points to level the scores at the end of the first quarter.
Poland then took advantage of Dimitrakou having to sit down and with three-minutes of the half remaining, went in front 29-19 via a score by Joanna Walich.
A triple by Aikaterina Sotiriou, helped Greece get off the ropes and rolling again, as they cut the gap to seven points at the break.
Greece were much improved when they came out for the third quarter, although initially, baskets by Magdalena Leciejewska and Agnieszka Skobel briefly gave the hosts an 11 point lead in the game.
But, the visitors posted an 11-2 run, with Pelagia Papamichail making it 43-43 going into the last quarter.
As hard as they tried, Poland couldn't make a decisive break and whilst they eventually won the game courtesy of a lay-up by Skobel, the tie was still lost by a significant margin.
There were a trio of fantastic displays for Greece with Artemis Spanou contributing 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Papamichail claimed 14 points from six of eight floor shooting and Sotiriou led the way with and efficient 17 points to go with seven rebounds and three steals.
Agnieszka Szott-Hejmej stood out for Poland with 14 points although her team will be disappointed they couldn't get their perimeter game to fire and were out-muscled on the boards.
Greece will participate at EuroBasket Women 2015 which will be hosted jointly by Hungary and Romania, whilst Poland will get another shot to make it when they enter the qualification round again next summer.