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Hoopsters risk crashing out after Slovenia defeat

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Qualification to the second round of the Eurobasket will go down to the wire for Greece after the national team succumbed to its second loss in three games, this time to Slovenia. The Greeks lost 78-72 on Sunday and must win at least one of their two remaining games in the group to stay in the tournament.

Slovenia had a great start to the game in Helsinki advancing by up to 12 points (25-13), but Greece balanced the game and went ahead for the first time early in the second half (36-35).

Despite the four fouls that kept influential point guard Nick Calathes on the bench, Greece pegged Slovenia down and went ahead by up to eight points (58-50) thanks to the energy from Giorgos Papayiannis (10 points).

However the fourth period was disastrous for the Greek team that was unable to find the points it needed from its shots, while Slovenia's pick-and-roll tactics made the difference. The eight-point lead was turned into a five-point deficit with a partial 23-10 score, for a 75-70 in the Slovenians’ favor, as Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic led their comeback.

Unlike the game against France, Greece had a terrible rate in three-pointers (just 15 percent), and Thanasis Antetokounmpo was conspicuously absent with zero points in four minutes played.

Costas Sloukas topped Greece’s scorers with 18 points.

The result means Greece cannot reach the Slovenians at the table anymore, with two games left to play, and it will have to beat host Finland in a very demanding game on Tuesday evening, otherwise it risks finishing fourth (facing a very strong opponent in the next round) or even fifth (if it loses to Poland) which would send it home early.

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