Greece suffered a defeat at the hands of France in its second game for the 2017 Eurobasket in Finland, going down 95-87 on Saturday. Although the loss will not cost the Greek team dearly, other than missing out on the group’s top spot which was always a long shot, the first-half performance was a negative omen for the future.
The far more athletic French outran and outjumped the Greek players in the first half, scoring at will against a once again problematic Greek defense, leading to a 19-point advantage at half-time (55-36).
Their rapid but composed game confounded the Greeks who only managed to match them when Thanasis Antetokounmpo was introduced.
In the second half the French dropped a gear to save some of their strength for their game on Sunday, i.e. 19 hours later, against Iceland. This allowed Greece to stage a comeback, coming to within six points (78-72) six minutes from the end and bringing back ghosts of the past for the French. Yet France would not let this one slip away and rallied to victory by eight points in the end.
It appeared the Greek team was not mentally prepared for the game in the first half, as besides the undisputed quality of the French the nerves of the Greeks forced them to commit numerous turnovers throughout the match.
Such were the nerves of the Greek team that also led to three technical fouls for protesting, while forward Costas Papanikolaou was fouled out from the third quarter. This was definitely a game where injured Yiannis Antetokounmpo was sorely missed.
Giorgos Printezis scored 22 points while Nick Calathes and Costas Sloukas added 15 each for the Greeks, who face Slovenia next on Sunday.