A convincing second half was enough for Greece to start the 2017 Eurobasket with a 90-61 win over Iceland in Helsinki on Thursday.
Having to play the entire tournament without its biggest star, Yiannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks due to a knee injury, the Greeks relied on his brother Thanasis and on the Greek league’s stars to overcome the first obstacle in the group stage.
The game started well for Greece, that led 29-10 at the beginning of the second quarter, but a scare was to follow.
The improvement in the Iceland defense and the frustration in the Greece’s attack resulted in a 21-4 partial score for the group’s underdog (33-31). The turnovers of the Greek forwards are something their coaches have to look into.
The 37-33 half-time score served like a wake-up call for Greece coach Costas Missas and his players, as they could ill afford a slip-up against arguably the weakest team of the pool.
The start of the second half saw Greece respond with a 14-2 partial score to take its lead back to 16 points (51-35), with Thanasis Antetokounmpo adding some spectacular plays to the Greek repertoire.
The Greek defense tightened up and the 57 points scored in the second half allowed Greece to stroll to an easy win in the end.
However the national team will need to become less erratic in its game ahead of the clash with France on Saturday that could decide the summit of this group of six teams.
Nikos Pappas was the top scorer for Greece on Thursday, with 20 points, followed by Giorgos Printezis with 17.