Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gritty Greece Holds Off Serbia

Greece 68, Serbia 67 (OT)

- Unofficial barnburner game of the day. Wasn't the prettiest of games, but things started to pick up in the 4th. How come Greece always finds ways to win these type of games? Not sure, but they always find a way to win these type of grind-it-out tight games--they did it in group play last year & in '05. Has a lot to do with their excellent half-court defense and their ability to never panic down the stretch.

- Highlighted by an early candidate for play of the tournament, as Milan Gurovic hit this wild three at the buzzer to force OT:

- Neither team could make their shots--Greece shot 33% (6/26 from 3pt), Serbia was 38% (3/20 from 3pt.). Both defenses dictated the action today--either the entire team effort of Greece or the imposing backline of the Serbian defense with Darko & Erceg.

- Darko did major damage with his lefty baby hook all game--must have had 10 pts just off the hook rolling into the middle. Was the one source of consistent offense for Serbia. Darko finished with 17 pts & 3 blks. He was also a major defensive deterrent all game forcing the penetrating guards to kick out, and he shut down Papadopolous' post game down--blocking 2 of Lazaros' shots. Was not a totally positive performance for Darko--he had 6 TOs & was 3/7 on FTs.

- Fiery Serbian vet Gurovic continued to have a tough time finding the range--4/17 overall for 14 pts & 8 rebs--but he did find time to connect on that half-court heave off the backboard to send the game into OT.

- Marko Jaric had a solid overall performance running Team Serbia with 18 pts, 6 rbs 7/8 fts., including a big 3pt in OT with a hand in his face. Impressed with the play of Zoran Erceg, a mobile 7-footer and very active all-around--9 pts & 12 rebs (4 off), not to mention 3 stls & 2 blks.

- We mentioned in the preview the fact that Greece is a shaky rebounding club & Serbia has great size--well, these factors combined today as Serbia won the boards 45-33. 2nd game in a row Greece gets outrebounded by double-digits, but this never really ends up hurting Greece, didn't last year.

- Greece loves the drive-n-kick game, and their guards were getting in the lane but Greece was having little success burying shots on the other end of the kick pass. Greece was 6/26 from long distance--their outside shooting is an issue, folks have to realize the USA game was an aberration. Diamantidis needs to be more aggressive looking for his shot off the drive. If there is one knock on him, it's he too unselfish. V. Spanoulis was the only other Greek in double figures with 10 pts, also had 5 steals.

- PF Dimos Dikoudis was the only Greek who had any luck shooting his jumper--20 pts & 8 rbs on 7/9. Was the only Greek to shoot over 50%. Dikoudis hit 2 huge 3pts. late in the game: a long bomb with a minute left in regulation to tie the game at 51, then hit another long 3pt. with :40 secs left in OT to put Greece up 68-64.

- We commented how impressive Greece's defense has been in the past and didn't fail to impress today either. Great intensity all game with great rotations challenging shots. Held Serbia to 23/61 from floor, 3/20 overall. Made a nice adjustment by sending doubles at Darko more often in 2nd half, not allowing him to turn into the lane.

Day 2 Odds & Ends:

- Lithuania looked scary good vs. the Czech Republic today. After looking sharp vs. Turkey yesterday, Lith. came out blazing in the 1st quarter shooting 70% & 5/9 from deep for a 30-18 lead. It was vintage Lithuania with Saras leading the attack, and the requisite impeccable ball-movement & pure outside shooting. Lithuania has the best offense in the tourney outside of Spain.

- The '06-'07 NBA MVP looks like he's doing fine. Dirk put up 35 & 11 in an OT win over Czech Republic, and followed it up with 24 & 6 in a thrashing of Turkey on Tuesday. Ex-Tar Heel Ademoka Okulaja has provide his usual solid secondary support to Dirk with 13 & 9 and 13 & 11.

- Facial hair alert: Dirk's rocking a goatee, not bad. Darko is too, not so good. Has a junior high vibe to it, more like a Kool-Aid mustache.

- Wednesday is judgement day for some big name bball countries. Turkey, Italy, & Serbia are all 0-2. While Italy & Serbia could easily be 2-0, Turkey has easily been the biggest underachiever of the tourney. Turkey has been handled with ease by Lithuania & Germany, both formidable opponents but Turkey should be on the same level as them. Italy should have the least problems securing a victory, but Turkey & Serbia are not shoo-ins for the 2nd round, Czech & Israel can't be taken lightly.

- Part of the reason Italy is 0-2 is due to this wild finish vs. Slovenia - Matteo Soragna hit a three with 5 seconds left to give Italy a 68-66 lead, then Jara Lakovic came right back downcourt to knock down the game-winner at the buzzer:


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Sergi P said...

I thought your coverage of the Americas tournament was very difficult to top, but you are doing it again with these terrific Eurobasket previews and coverage, deeply knowledgeable and extremely insightful material. What an awesome job you guys are doing! Thanks heaps!!!

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Excellent breakdown as usual, Jay. Any thoughts on the Darko-ref mess? Does he have a legit beef?

At 10:15 PM, Blogger jay aych said...

Thanks Sergi, we try to be as comprehensive as possible.

Jason, he definitely has a beef. After the FIBA Americas, where the officiating was alright (at least by FIBA standards), Eurobasket has been filled with the usual head-scratching reffing that we're accustomed to with FIBA ball. The France/Slov game alone had 3 bogus intentional fouls calls on Slov, 2 on Rasho that got him tossed. Seen some other shaky intentional calls in other games as well, plus unexplainable foul calls.


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