Sunday, September 09, 2007

Spanoulis' Buzzer-Beater Buries Croatia

- Best game of the weekend. Featured some nice back-n-forth action in the 2nd half with both teams exchanging big jumpers, and ended with a buzzer-beating pull-up from 28-feet by Vasilios Spanoulis:



-But maybe more important than Spanoulis' bomb, was Dimis Diamantidis coming up huge in the 2nd half, erupting for 21 of 23 in the 2nd half hitting all of his four 3pts in the last 15 minutes of the contest. Dimis finished with 23 pts, 6 rebs, 3 assts, 2 stls & 9/10 fts; this is the type of game that confirms why were unabashed Diamantidis' fans here at the Painted Area.

- Greece might have not really needed Spanoulis' late game heroics, but Greece made the peculiar decision to foul with :10 secs left up 2 points. Though, this tactic seems to be not all that unusual in int'l ball--'06 Worlds Semis, Argentina fouled Spain late with the score tied so they could have the last offensive possession, but it backfired (Saw it happen in the Angola-Germany tilt last year as well). Croatia's Marko Popovic made both free throws to tie the game at 78, then Spanoulis came down to hit a pull-up 30-foot winner at the buzzer. Spanoulis had a solid game hitting his outside jumpers thru out--3/8 on 3pts & a few pull-up mid-rangers for 14 pts.

- Lazaos Papadopoulous was Greece's steadiest performer thru-out the game but Greece got a much needed lift in the 2nd half thanks to their two leaders, Theo Papaloukas & Dimis Diamantidis. With Greece down 11 points midway thru the 3rd, Theo & Dimis buried back2back 3 pts to ignite a Greece rally, and a 21-4 run over the last 5 mins of the 3rd. Diamantidis kept his hot hand for the rest of the game: Dimis hit a big 3 pts to put Greece back on top with 5 mins left in the 4th, then another with 1:30 remaining to put Greece up 76-71.

- Dimis does not look to shoot much, but when he does he has a knack for hitting huge shots. He's a capable shooter, it's just that he's too damn unselfish & only seems to want to shoot if the shot clock is running down & he's forced to. He has to realize this year he can't wait until his team desparately needs him, he has to be aggressive on offense all game because the Greeks are hurting for offensive firepower with Fotsis & Big Sofo absent.

- The zone cut down on Papaloukas' creative ability once again but he was able to hurt the defense with his shooting today, something he's not known for--11 pts, 2/4 3pts for Theo.

- Big man Lazaros Papadopoulus was the main source of offense for Greece in the 1st half, single-handedly kept them close with his old-school hook shots with either hand--15 pts on 7/8 for the half. He added a few more hooks in the 2nd half for 22 pts & 6 rebs on 10/13 overall. He looked liked the Lazaros of the '06 Worlds today after struggling so far in Euro '07.

- Croatia's zone was very effective in the 2nd quarter & Greece was once again having trouble finding the range from outside--1/6 for 3pt in the 1st half. But Greece finally got on track in the 2nd half & made Croatia pay for staying in the zone--8/16 from downtotwn in the 2nd half for Greece.

- Roko Ukic (Raptor draftee) did a great job using his quickness to finish off drives for 10 pts. Ukic definitely has the speed & size to play PG in the NBA, but needs to tweak his shot. Mario Kasun continued to be a presence in the middle & had himself another efficient game with 15 & 6 rebs on 4/5 (7/7 fts). Kasun has been one of the better bigs in the tourney & is only 2nd to Gasol in FG% at 60%. Ex-Net Zoran Planinic had a solid outing with 10, 4 rebs, 3 asst & some big 3pts in the 2nd half. Guard Marko Popovic also was strong for Croatia with 11, 4 rebs, 4 asst & three 3pts.

- Both teams should qualify for the quarterfinals thanks to Portugal upsetting Israel today. The only way those plans are distrubed is if somehow Portugal beats Greece, which probably won't be happenin'.