Day 4 Men: GRE 88 - ANG 56
Greece assures its quarterfinal spot
ATHENS - To the delight of 12,000 fans at Helliniko Indoor Arena, Greece survived to fight in the quarterfinals of Olympic Men's Basketball after posting an easy 88-56 victory over winless Angola on Saturday.
Greece (2-2) is currently tied for third place in Group B with the United States (2-2), and can actually jump up into second place if it wins its last preliminary game, against Puerto Rico (3-1), by 13 points or more. A Greek win by fewer than 13 points would place it third.
Team captain Fragkiskos ALVTERIS sparked a wealth of bench scoring with his three 3-point shots before halftime to send Greece ahead early and often on Saturday.
ALVERTIS finished with 13 points of the 49 scored by Greece's reserves. Another one of them, forward Dimosthenis NTIKOUDIS, led the winners with 15 points while Konstantinos TSARTSARIS put up 13, Nikolaos CHATZIVRETTAS and Antonis FOTSIS 10 each.
Greece held sharp-shooting Angola (0-4) to just six of 24 on 3-pointers. Walter COSTA, with 12 points, was the only Angolan to reach double digits.
Michail KAKIOUZIS gave Greece an early 7-3 edge with five consecutive points, but Angola re-took the lead at 9-7 on a 3-pointer by Walter COSTA. Greece answered with a pair of shots from the arc, by FOTSIS and ALVERTIS, to surge ahead 18-12. After another Angola three-pointer, ALVERTIS launched another from downtown to open a 23-15 Greek lead after 10 minutes.
Greece quickly added to its lead in the second quarter, reaching 31-17 on a shot in the lane by ALVERTIS. After a 5-2 response by Angola, Greece's bench closed out the quarter strong, with NTIKOUDIS adding new points until the hosts were in charge at 43-25.
After the half, CHATZIVRETTAS buoyed the Greek offense with a 3-pointer that helped push the lead to a high of 63-32 late in the quarter. Winless Angola, who had been close in other preliminary games, now tried to shoot its way back from downtown, but still faced an uphill climb at 35-67 after three quarters.
The outcome was already clear and Greece was looking forward to the chance to climb up in the standings on Monday. Angola will end the preliminaries against the United States.
Konstantinos TSARTSARIS (GRE), Forward:
On the game:
"We really needed that victory in order to leave behind our loss to Lithuania and change our image to the Greek fans."
"It is a strong and hard team. But when we find out rhythm, Angola couldn't stopped us."
Dimosthenis NTIKOUDIS (GRE), Forward:
On the game:
"Today we had a lot of enthusiasm in both offence and defense. We were focus on our goal and I think we made the game easy for us. We wanted to improve our image and this can be true only if we stay focus and play for 40 minutes like a team."
|Press conference quotes:|
Fragkiskos ALVERTIS, Forward, Team Captain (GRE)
"The game turned out to be an easy one, but it was all the same important because we wanted to try some things and do them the right way. Now we have to do what is necessary against Puerto Rico and wait for the quarterfinals. The team is able of playing well. I am taking this opportunity to thank our fans for their support in the game against Lithuania. I had never experienced it again in a Greek arena, to be 30 points behind and still have the crowd rooting for us. These people can be sure that we are giving and will continue to give our heart and soul to make them happy, and to be happy ourselves as well."
Carlos ALMEIDA, Guard (ANG)
"We tried to do our best. We came to the Olympic Games to do better than in Sydney, where we finished last. It is difficult to play at this level with the problems our team has. We will continue to play as hard as we can in the upcoming games to achieve the goal I mentioned."
Panagiotis GIANNAKIS, Head Coach (GRE)
"After a very bad first half against Lithuania, we played against a team without huge qualities, but very well prepared and coached, a team that fights in all games, plays aggressively, defends well, runs the floor, and shoots from the perimeter. I have to say well done to my players because they kept concentrated, after the shock of the Lithuania game. We controlled the rebounds and showed a great will to play and please our fans, who support us even in hard times. I think it was our defense that gave us the win."
Mario PALMA, Head Coach (ANG)
"The Olympic Games are practically finished for us. In the game against Puerto Rico we lost our best shooter (Miguel LUTONDA) and one more of our players (Antonio CARVALHO) to injury, then we had players also injured and playing through pain. Walter COSTA will be operated on his knee after the Olympic Tournament. You can't play teams like Greece or the United States without being at full strength. Congratulations to Greece, who played very well tonight, but considering our problems it was impossible for us to do better."
Source: Athens news service