Turning Point: There simply wasn't one as Greece put Serbia to the sword right from tip-off to establish a 20 point cushion inside the first seven minutes.
Game Heroes: There were plenty of contenders for Greece with Ioannis Bourousis claiming a game high 27 points, Antonios Fotsis finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds while Nick Calathes claimed a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia giving up 34 points in the first quarter including a combined 14 second chance points and points off turnovers tells the story.
|Appearances can be deceiving... It was Nick Calathes's Greece that walked all over Milos Teodosic's Serbia in the 1st quarter, with a 34-8 lead after the first ten minutes |
A devastating first quarter blowout proved decisive as Greece grabbed the last spot at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer.
Serbia simply never got started as Greece tore them to shreds early and led from tip to buzzer in a comfortable 87-77 victory.
The Greeks dominated right from the tip-off, scoring nine of the first eleven points to force Serbia head coach Dusan Ivkovic into calling time-out inside three minutes.
It failed to stop the rot and his team struggled at both ends of the floor as they failed to start. Greece was playing with more defensive intensity while it was raining threes offensively, thanks mainly to the Serbian perimeter defence being missing in action.
Ioannis Bourousis, Antonios Fotsis and Nikos Zisis all dropped three-balls to increase the lead to 20-4 as Coach Ivkovic called his second time with barely five minutes having elapsed.
There was still plenty of time for it to get worse for Serbia and it did -spectacularly so- as they gave up an eye-popping number of points to trail 34-8 heading into the second period.
With their Olympic ambitions hanging by the finest of threads, it was always going to need a comeback of epic proportions to realise them.
Marko Keselj tried his best to ignite the revival, sinking back to back triples from the same corner spot as Serbia finally began to find some kind of rhythm and acceptable defence to record a 12-4 run.
However Bourousis, Zisis and Fotsis were doing a good job of steadying things for Greece and keeping them way out in front at 48-26 by the end of the half.
As hard as they tried, Serbia could make little impression as they searched desperately for a game-changing run during the third period.
However by early in the fourth quarter, they managed to at least ask Greece some questions by reducing a one-time 26 point deficit to ten points at 65-55 with eight minutes still remaining.
After a time-out by coach Ilias Zouros, Greece never seriously looked in danger of throwing the game away as they showed the composure they needed to close out the game comfortably.
It was a strong team performance by Greece and while the usual suspects grabbed the headlines, the likes of young gun Kostas Papanikolaou did much of the dirty work with eight rebounds and plenty of endeavour off the ball.
As for Serbia, they just gave themselves too high of a mountain to climb after such a disastrous start.