Day 5 Men: GRE 78 - PUR 58
Greece seizes higher seeding from Puerto Rico
ATHENS - In the last Men's Olympic Basketball preliminary game, Greece handcuffed high-scoring Puerto Rico to win 78-58 and claim second place out of Group B heading into the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Greece's victory means it will face Group As third-place team, Argentina, in the quarters. It also set up the the other pairings: Spain v United States, Italy v Puerto Rico and Lithuania v China.
Greece, Puerto Rico and United States had tied records of 3-2 at the end of the preliminaries and were 1-1 against each other. Greece took second by having a better point difference among them and Puerto Rico third for the same reason, leaving the USA fourth.
Greece needed not only to beat Puerto Rico, but also to do so by 13 or more points, in order to claim second place. If it had won by 30 or more, a seeming possibility in the final minute, Puerto Rico would have dropped to fourth.
Michail KAKIOUZIS (GRE) came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers among 16 points to rile up the sellout crowd of 12,000 at Helliniko Indoor Arena. Lazaros PAPADOPOULOS (GRE) added 13 points and Fragkiskos ALVERTIS (GRE) 12 for the winners.
The Greek defence held Puerto Rico guard tandem Carlos ARROYO and Elias AYUSO, two of the tournaments top scorers, to 11 and 10 points, respectively. Puerto Rico suffered from 3-for-22 shooting from 3-point territory.
Puerto Rico took an early 16-3 lead but Greece climbed back behind seven straight points from PAPADOPOULOS. His team couldnt quite take the lead, however, and Puerto Rico escaped the first quarter ahead 22-20.
That changed when Greece made the first two shots of the second quarter. While Puerto Rico went repeatedly to the foul line now, making only three of eight opportunities, the Greek lead climbed to 31-25. Then KAKIOUZIS appeared with his first two long shots, and ALVERTIS followed with another, to put Greece in control 40-28 at halftime.
The lead reached 46-30 as the third quarter started, and kept rising to 54-37 thanks to five points from Antonios FOTSIS (GRE). With center Daniel SANTIAGO (PUR) in foul trouble, Puerto Rico tried to come back through 2.19 meter teenager Peter John RAMOS (PUR) and a rare triple from Elias AYUSO (PUR), but a deficit of 56-46 remained after 30 minutes.
An exact repeat of the 3-point barrage that finished the first half ended any Puerto Rican hopes of winning or finishing second in the group.
Midway through the final quarter, KAKIOUZIS raised up twice from the corner and hit nothing but net, and then ALVERTIS hit his own triple for a 72-52 lead.
When Vasileios SPANOULIS followed them with another and ALVERTIS made a fastbreak layup, the 78-54 score threatened to drop Puerto Rico all the way to fourth place.
But free throws by ARROYO and Roberto HATTON (PUR) in the final minute avoided that fate, so Greece and its boisterous fans settled for a 20-point victory.
The preliminaries survivors now move to a different venue, Olympic Indoor Hall, until a champion is crowned on Saturday 28 August.
Dimosthenis NTIKOUDIS (GRE), Forward
On their Victory
"We were expecting a difficult match because Puerto Rico has shown to own many good qualities. When we finally found our rhythm the game automatically became everything but a difficult one as the spectators saw. We did not play in such a way as to choose our next opponent."
Nikos ZISIS (GRE), Guard
On the Game
"We never thought about the ties which existed within our group. Our aim, when we stepped onto the court, was to win. Both the past and basketball history has proven that whoever plays in such a way, which allows them to choose their opponent has, is and always will be punished."
On the Next Match Against Argentina
"Now the first thing we must do is to relax and in continuance we must prepare and analyze Argentina's tactical strategy. I honestly believe we have the power to win that game."
Theodoros PAPALOUKAS (GRE), Guard
On the Key Point of the Game
"The driving force behind our victory was both defense and the crowd. Before the start of the game and during half time we all agreed that we don't care about the points derived from victories just the triumph itself. Puerto Rico is a good team and there is no doubt that they didn't come into this match to loose. I have to mention that once again the crowd was amazing."
On the Olympic Tournament
"The tournament has proven that surprises lurk behind every corner and that there are no set favorites. Whatever team manages to play the best they are at an advantage."
Peter John RAMOS (PUR), Center
On the Game
"It was a good game, nothing more, nothing less."
Elias AYUSO (PUR), Guard
On Their Next Game
"It doesn't matter who we play all that matters is that we are ready to compete and we can't nor should we worry about what other people say. It's up to us to be ready to win but of course it's possible that any team could loose. There is one thing that I promise, we will be in the finals!"
Source: Athens news service