Russia edge Greece in tight Eurobasket Quarter-final
EUROBASKET 2017 - QUARTER FINALS
|Greece||69 - 74||Russia|
|(24 - 17)
(37 - 31)
(53 - 51)
(69 - 74)
Russia are off to the semi-finals at Eurobasket 2017 after a narrow 74-69 defeat of Greece at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Turkey on Wednesday night.
Nikos Calathes scored 25 points and added 5 rebounds, but the double punch offered by Russia’s Alexei Shved (26 points, 5 assists), and Timofey Mozgov (15 points, 10 rebounds) was too much to overcome for Kostas Missas’ men.
Greece did have Russia on the ropes midway through the second quarter as the Ethniki had a 13 point lead, only for Russia to outscore Greece in both the third and fourth quarters en route to a semi-final clash against either Italy or Serbia.
After a tug-of-war on the scoreboard early on, it was Greece who established the lead midway through the first quarter. Calathes and Georgios Printezis were the protagonists for Greece, who stormed out to a 24-17 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
Greece continued to roll to start the second frame. Despite an early three-pointer from Russia to start the second quarter, Greece expanded their lead to double digits on the heels of clutch shooting from Calathes and Kostas Sloukas.
That run seemingly woke up Russia, who finished the first half on a 9-2 run with Mozgov and Dmitry Khvostov fueling the Russian attack.
It would take the majority of the third quarter for Russia to claw back and tie the game, but eventually they did. Greece were held offensively, while the solid defensive effort on display in the first half was nowhere to be found.
Despite changes in the rotation by Missas, Greece continued to struggle to keep Mozgov quiet offensively. A late alley oop from Ioannis Bourousis was the only difference between the sides heading into the fourth quarter, with Russia carrying the momentum into the final frame.
Shved quickly scored Russia’s first four points to give the Russians the lead within the first minute of the fourth quarter. Greece would keep the Russians in check through Calathes, but soon the Russians would pull away with Shved leading the charge. The former New York Knicks guard made the most of his presence by stretching the Greek defense and finding his teammates in space.
With Russia now in the lead, Greece would keep the game close until the dying moments. Fouling to force Russia to the line hastily, Greece pulled within three points after an important three-pointer from Calathes.
With time running out, Russia wouldn’t miss a free throw in the dying moments to ensure they would be moving one step closer to winning continental honours.
Russia now look forward to facing the winner of Wednesday night’s late tip-off between Italy and Serbia for a spot in Sunday’s Final. The first semi-final, scheduled between Greece’s Group A rivals Slovenia and powerhouse Spain, takes place on Thursday.