|Emerged as the game-winner once more: Giannoulis Larentzakis|
An explosive second-quarter spurt, in which they outscored Croatia 16-0, enabled Greece to reach a 77-68 success on Monday and maintain their undefeated record at the Sportland U20 European Championship in Estonia.
Greece now lead Second Round Group E with a 3-0 record, courtesy of the two wins they had carried over from the First Round, and are already confirmed of a place in the quarter-finals, regardless of the outcome of the game between Germany and Turkey.
Both sides struggled to find their rhythm initially, until point guard Henrik Sirko hit a triple with eight minutes remaining in the second frame to give Croatia their first three-point lead in the game.
Ironically, this basket sparked the Greek machine into motion; the Hellenic team tightened the screws on defence and on the offensive end Dimitris Agravanis and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 11 points as they led the six-minute 16-0 run that changed entirely the nature of the encounter.
The shell-shocked Croatia mastered a reaction and reduced to 36-30 but Greece kicked off the second half on a 7-0 mini-run to re-gain a double-digit lead, 43-30.
The Greeks were never going to look so dominant again and the Croats kept them without a score for a four-minute stretch either side of the third buzzer.
Antonio Boban sunk a three-pointer that capped a 7-0 Croatia run and brought his team within just two points, 56-54, with 7:46 left on the clock.
Croatia had now found their way around the Greek defence, but the last five minutes belonged entirely to Giannoulis Larentzakis.
The Greek guard drilled two triples in quick succession and scored 15 points in that final stretch to ensure Croatia would not turn this into a dramatic finale.
Larentzakis finished on a game-high 25 points, Agravanis had 14 points and eight rebounds and Antetokounmpo picked up a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds and an outstanding six blocks.
Sirko had 17 points and eight boards while Boban had 14 points for Croatia in losing efforts.