Greece Shut Out Russia In Third, Move Into Semis

16 July 2010

Reigning champions Greece booked their place in the last four of the U20 European Championship Men 2010 after strangling the life out of Russia with a remarkable third quarter defensive effort to earn a runaway 74-55 success.

Offensively, the inspiration for Greece was again Nikos Pappas - top scorer in the competition and still the leading candidate in the race for tournament MVP. The point guard claimed 27 points and only missed out on an unlikely double-double by a single rebound.

There had been just one score between the teams at 33-31 when they returned to the floor in Zadar after the half-time interval but Greece moved into top gear on defence to hold their opponent to just six points in the quarter as Russia crumbled completely.

Yet in the early exchanges it was Russia who had prevailed after a 10-0 start including triples from Maxim Bychkov and Valdimir Ivlev and this led to an early time-out by Coach Missas to correct his teams false start.

After being scoreless for over four minutes, Greece then scored three baskets in less than 40 seconds which suddenly had Russia calling time-out and on the back-foot. It was Pappas leading the way and his triple inside the last minute gave Greece an 18-16 lead before a nice spin-move by Ivlev tied things up in an entertaining opening period.

Russia did manage to compose themselves once again and even led 31-28 until the classy Pappas drained a triple and then made a lay up inside the final minute of the half to give Greece a two point advantage heading into the third quarter.

The favourites for gold then threw their defensive blanket over Russia and stormed into a 43-31 lead. Greece never looked back and in truth out-classed Russia at times with a triple by Evangelos Mantzaris on the final buzzer very much the cherry on the cake as they coasted into the semi-finals.

Konstantinos Papanikolaou was highly impressive for Greece with 18 points and 9 rebounds (watch his postgame reaction here) while for Russia, Ivlev top-scored with a paltry 8 points.

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