Greece Aim To Put Heartbreak Behind Them
Fans back in Athens have every reason to think Greece are the best team heading into the Qualifying Round of the EuroBasket Women with a 1-2 record.
After opening their account with a big victory over Hungary, Greece lost heart-breakers to Poland and hosts Latvia and ended up third in Group B.
"We go to next round with not as many points (as we could), but we have achieved one target already by going through to the best 12," Greece coach Kostas Missas said.
Despite Spain's pedigree in women's hoops, which includes bronze medals from the EuroBaskets in 2001, '03 and '05 and a silver one from 2007, a game against them could be just what Greece need.
Both teams like the open-court game and that style will certainly suit Evina Maltsi and Styliani Kaltsidou, Greece's biggest weapons on offense.
For Spain, center Cindy Lima hasn't been much of a factor but Spain coach Evaristo Perez has gotten solid contributions from centers Laura Nicholls and Lucila Pascua.
The most encouraging sign for Spain in the win over Slovakia was the play of Anna Montanana, who not only scored a lot of points but also came up with six steals.
Spain not only forced Slovakia to turn the ball over, but capitalized on their opponents' mistakes. They finished with 18 points of 21 Slovakia turnovers.
Last Time Out: Spain won 68-53 over Greece in the 1999 Challenge Round.
Stats: Greece had 12 steals in their overtime defeat to Latvia while Spain had 13 steals in their triumph over Slovakia.
Key Match-up: Greece's Styliani Kaltsidou v Spain's Anna Montanana. Montanana was far and away the best player on the court in Spain's win over Slovakia. It's imperative for Bourges' big-summer signing Kaltsidou to not only score points but to lessen the offensive impact of Montanana.
X-Factor: Evina Maltsi. With just two points at half-time, Maltsi was floundering and so were Greece who trailed by 16. Thanks to her offensive explosion after the intermission which saw her finish with 24 points, Greece stormed back and took the lead before falling in overtime.
Sounding Off: "We still need to improve on defense and although we are happy going 2-0 to the Qualifying Round, we go to Riga knowing we have to start from zero" - Spain coach Evaristo Perez.