Day 3 Women: GRE 83 - NIG 68
Greece stays alive with first victory
ATHENS, 18 August 18 - Greece stormed ahead early to register its crowd-pleasing first victory in Women's Basketball, 83-68 over Nigeria, at Helliniko Indoor Arena on Wednesday.
Now 1-2 in Group A, Greece can still reach the quarterfinals, while Nigeria falls to 0-3.
A 22-2 blast in the first quarter established Greece's lead, which reached as high as 25 points before late in the fourth quarter, when Nigeria rallied to within nine points.
Point guard Anastasia KOSTAKI (GRE), who triggered the early run, led the winners with 25 points. Steady forward Evanthia MALTSI popped in 24 more.
Mfon UDOKA of Nigeria, who leads the tournament in scorer and rebounding so far, posted a double-double of 28 points and 18 rebounds. Mactabene AMACHREE followed with 11 points and Rashidaq SADIQ and Umoh ITORO added 10 each for Nigeria.
The game turned early, when KOSTAKI erupted for 11 points in little more than two minutes of the first quarter. Her two 3-point shots and a later one by Aikaterini DELI were enough to send Greece in front 30-15 after 10 minutes.
Nigeria settled down in the slower-paced second quarter, but trading baskets wasn't enough to change its deficit, which was 15 points, 44-29, at the half.
Greece kept looking to KOSTAKI and MALTSI to retain the lead after halftime. They combined for 17 of Greece's 20 points in the third quarter, which ended 65-44.
Greece's lead peaked at 25 points for the last time early fourth quarter, but never-say-die Nigeria continued pressing and UDOKA continued cleaning up under the basket. As such, Nigeria trimmed away 16 points to get within just nine, 74-65, with two minutes left. KOSTAKI stepped up again with a driving layup and sub Eleni VASILEIOU stroked her only shot, a 3-pointer, to preserve Greece's first victory.
Greece faces undefeated Australia when women's play resumes Friday, while Nigeria will go against Brazil.
Sofia KLIGKOPOULOU, Center, team captain (GRE)
"I want to congratulate all my teammates on our first win ever in an Olympic tournament. I believe that we could win also in the previous two games, but anyhow we showed that we are a good team, playing with passion. I hope we win against Japan and we will go on to the next round, which will be a great accomplishment for Greek women's basketball. We just wanted to show how happy we are to play in the Olympic Games and how fond we are of our country, so we all made a small tattoo on our arm."
Mactabene AMACHREE, Forward (NGR)
"It was a disappointing loss for us. The Greek team shot the ball well, while we didn't play great defense. I'm sure we can play better than that. Now we should concentrate on our next game, and hopefully we can get a win in the two games to follow."
Georgios TSITSKARIS, Head Coach (GRE)
"It was our first win in the tournament and I hope we come up with a second one. I have to congratulate Nigeria on their effort, because they fought from start to finish without giving up, and we tried hard to beat them except in the last minutes when we relaxed a little. We knew each other with Nigeria from the Diamond Ball tournament, and so we concentrated on their weak points. My players followed our instructions for most of the game, and I expect them to do the same in the next games as well. We played well in all three games so far, although we were not able to beat Russia or Brazil, but we managed to win against Nigeria, a team more 'in our league', as I say."
Sam VINCENT, Head Coach (NGR)
"Congratulations to the Greek team. They did a really good job, they were well prepared and well coached, they did what they had to do to win. We have not played that well, but overall this has been a great experience for Nigerian girls. We tried and managed to stay close in the game, but there is a big difference between staying close and getting over the top, and it's going to take them a while to understand it."
|Press conference quotes:|
Anastasia KOSTAKI, guard (GRE)
On the first Greek win in the tournament:
"It's historical day gor Greek women basketball. We achieve our first win in the Olympic Games and we are very happy about it. As we 've said before the beginning of the tournament, our goal was to win against Nigeria and Japan in order to qualify to the quarter-finals. We played a good game against a tough team and I think that if continue in the same way we can create some way we can play an important role in the tournament."
Sofia KLIGKOPOULOU, center (GRE)
On the game:
"We were tired in the fourth quarter that's why we relaxed and we let then fight back and reduce the margin of the deficit. We are satisfied about our performance and our first win in the Olympic history of Greek women basketball. We are excited about it and we are looking to forward to repeat it."
Evanthia MALTSI, guard (GRE)
On the game:
" This game was only 50% of our original target. We started really strong and didn't expect the Nigerian team to play as relaxed as they did. At times of course, we also lost our focus and concentration and this is something that needs to be worked on. Both as individuals and as a team we played really well. As for what the future holds we'll give it all and nothing is impossible.''
Mfon UDOKA, centre (NGR)
On the game:
"The Greek team outplayed us, but we as a team are all young and experienced. It is important to remember that Africa is definetly behind when concerning basketball, but we are giving it a try. Our major problem today was the fact that we allowed the Greek players too many fast breaks and because they didn't need much time to shoot this affected the final score. This game was critical, we had to win it, therefore all that we can hope for now is to try and win our next games but we are going to take things one game at a time."
Source: Athens news service