|10 September 2013|
|Greece will be hoping for a Vassilis Spanoulis in full strength for the second round of EuroBasket|
Not having your key player or leader is one thing. But what happens if the absolute heart of your offence goes down injured?
That's the situation that Greece coach Andrea Trinchieri faced when Vassilis Spanoulis was hit with a twisted ankle in the first round at EuroBasket 2013.
The floor general missed the second half of Greece's win over Russia as well as the full games against Turkey and Italy. And the 31-year-old controls the Greek team so much that Trinchieri had to scrap his game plan and re-introduce a new one without Spanoulis in it.
"Nobody has a backup for Spanoulis. We had to rearrange our offense in one night. The players followed the new things. We wanted to use the players in a different way, maximize our height and dribble as little as possible," said Trinchieri after the win over Turkey.
"I know that we have very clear roles. We know that we have to play through adversity. Every player shared the responsibilities of Spanoulis."
Greek forward Stratos Perperoglou knows Spanoulis very well as they also combined to help Olympiacos to back-to-back Euroleague championships.
"He's our best player, he's our leader. It's hard to play without him. We hope that he is healthy and stays healthy to help us in the continuation of the tournament," said Perperoglou.
Greek forward Michail Bramos said the team is an entirely different one with Spanoulis.
"He's a great creator. He does a lot for our team. We're much better with him. He creates for us. Without him, everyone has to take a step forward and give 5 per cent extra," said Bramos.
Trinchieri's plan worked against an underperforming Turkish group, but Greece ran into the buzzsaw that is Italy - who went on to take the group's top spot without a loss.
Spanoulis then returned for the critical final group game against Finland and performed solidly despite missing all six three-pointers and committing seven turnovers to three assists in scoring 17 points.
The problem was that Greece's defence could not stop Finland's offence - they were just missing the mental toughness.
"It's not a matter of Xs and Os. It's about mentality. We had the wrong mentality, and this was not Vassilis' fault," said Trinchieri after the Finland loss.
"The presence of Vassilis for us is very important. He is our main offense weapon and everything works around him. So we had to change a lot, but particularly [against Finland] we should have been more consistent on defense," said Zisis.
The Greeks were already in a tight situation having brought just three guards to Slovenia in Spanoulis, Nikos Zisis and Kostas Sloukas.
The floor general Spanoulis can now ill afford to miss any time in the second group stage as the Greeks face a tough battle to reach the quarter-finals as they carry two losses from group play in Koper.
Spanoulis knows how to win big games - see two straight Euroleague titles with Olympiacos. And Greece will need him now more than ever.