Greece thrash Iceland in EuroBasket Opener
EUROBASKET 2017 - GROUP A (GAME 1)
|Iceland||61 - 90||Greece|
|(10 - 90)
(33 - 37)
(45 - 61)
(61 - 70)
Greece opened up its EuroBasket 2017 campaign with an impressive 90-61 win over Iceland in Helsinki, Finland on Thursday. An energetic Thanasis Antetokounmpo helped Greece find its groove after a mediocre second quarter, but it was Nikos Pappas who led all scorers with 20 points off the bench.
A 3-pointer from Georgios Printezis gave Greece the lead in the first minute and the Ethniki never looked back, despite a physical display from Iceland throughout the opening quarter. Greece took a 26-10 into the first break with the help of a Pappas 3-point buzzer-beater further compounding Iceland’s problems.
Instead of capitalizing on Iceland’s defensive woes, Greece showed complacency in the second quarter as Iceland began to claw back with Haukur Palsson leading the way. Poor defensive play and undisciplined fouls began to take its toll on the Greek lead, with Iceland cutting the Greek lead to 37-33 by halftime.
Kostas Missas’ men came out of the halftime break refocused with Greece’s starters making big contributions to re-establish the Greek lead. Kostas Papanikolaou scored the opening four points of the second half for Greece, while it was the versatility of Nikos Calathes who padded Greece’s lead with assists and points of his own.
Iceland managed to make the game interesting with Palsson doing his best to keep his side in the game, but there was no stopping Antetokounmpo who showed great athleticism at both ends of the court to propel Greece to a 16-point lead (61-45) by the end of the third quarter.
Iceland began to slow down by the fourth quarter, but unlike the second quarter where Greece sat back and invited Iceland back into the game, the Ethniki were much more clinical. Pappas continued to shoot impressively, demonstrating his range with buckets from three-point distance as well as cleaning up baskets around the Iceland rim.
Greece’s overall solid shooting, highlighted by nearly 44% shooting from long distance, allowed Greece to pad their lead in the fourth quarter. A confidence builder comes in the way of Greece’s fourth quarter defense. Holding Iceland to just 16 points in the final frame is a good starting block for a Greece squad that is looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2005.
As Greece improved to 1-0 to start the tournament, the other early score from Group A saw Slovenia edge Poland 90-81 while group hosts Finland face France in the late fixture on Thursday.
Greece will face stiffer opposition in their next Group A game against France on Saturday, while Iceland tip-off against Poland on the same day.