Wednesday, August 23, 2006

2006 FIBA World Champs--Greece 91, Brazil 80

- Once again, a highly entertaining game in Group C. Greece seemed to have this game totally under wraps & were in total control for the 1st 3 quarters. But Brazil fought their way back with a 20-0 run in a 5 minute span in the 4th quarter thanks mostly to tremendous ball pressure in their defensive half-court. But for the second game in a row, Brazil killed themselves at the foul line--10/23.

- Greece had a comfortable cushion during the middle part of the game & were having little trouble with either the Brazilian man or zone defense--they shot the 3pts. surprisingly well all game (47.1%) Greece just did a great job moving the ball in quarters 1 thru 3. Again, they looked to Lazaros Papadopoulos (12 pts.) in the low post & he delivered a few nice moves & finished some hooks with either hand. His back-up Dimos Dikoudis did a great job off the bench, by providing 7 quick points in the 1st half & finished with 14 overall.

- Basically, Greece really spread the wealth around offensively all game. A. Fotsis played with some passion with a couple 3pt. makes & a soaring follow-up jam--he finished with 11 pts., & 6 rebs. (4 off.) on 3/4--he needs more looks. Theo Papaloukas got to the line 12 times on his way to 14 pts. And last but not least, their heady floor general D. Diamantidis had a super floor game with 9 pts., 4 assts., & 6 steals--Greece had 14 steals & forced 22 TOs, but sort of neutralized that with 22 TOs themselves.

- The only reason that Brazil was in reasonable striking distance at the end of the 3rd quarter was the torrid shooting of Marcelo Machado. He had 14 pts. in the quarter on 4 3pts. & ended the game with 25 pts. on 7/11 from 3pt. land. Tiago Splitter was the other bright spot for Brazil, since Barbosa & Varejao really struggled. Splitter was very active once again and finished a ton of lay-ins, but also hit a couple huge elbow jumpers in the 4th--one to give Brazil the lead with 4 minutes to go. Tiago had 18 pts. on 8/11 & 8 boards. Former SA Spur Alex Garcia helped out by hitting some big 3pts. (4/5 on 3s) to total 17 points. Marcelo Huertas provided great energy all game long on both ends. He was a key component to their defensive pressure & also really did a great job pushing the ball in transition. Barbosa did contribute 8 assts & Varejao was active which led to 7 rebs. (4 off), but he was 0/5 from the floor & had 4 TOs.

- Brazil is like Team USA-lite, because they are so much more effective when they push the pace & get out in transition. They also took another note from Team USA's playbook with really increasing the ball pressure late in the 3rd quarter. They were making it really hard for Greece to get into their offense & forced a handful of turnovers. I was surprised to see Greece lose its composure in the 4th. But after they made a 3 to tie the game at 72-72, they never relinquished the lead & made their free throws down the stretch. You wonder if Brazil maybe should have gone to more aggressive defense earlier.

- Greece did just enough to get the win once again. Even after looking very flustered in the 4th and in danger of squandering a game that was well in hand, Greece regrouped with about 3 minutes left to regain control of the game. The one thing that should be of some concern to the Greeks--was the way they were bothered by the Brazil half-court pressure. It makes you wonder how they will handle the US in a possible semi-final matchup.

- 4-0 Greece now faces 4-0 Turkey to determine the king of Group C. This should turn into another great Group C battle, and has even more intrigue knowing these two countries do not care for each other, to put it lightly.