A most disappointing Greece suffered a 12-point loss to host Finland on Tuesday and is facing a must-win game against Poland on Wednesday.
Finland advanced to the next round winning 89-77 and making the most of a very poor Greek show for the first 33 minutes of the game in Helsinki.
The hosts led by up to 20 points early in the second half (56-36). The typical Greek comeback cut the arrears up to four points (69-65) and then again to six (80-74), but in both cases the Greek momentum was interrupted by unsportsmanlike fouls that gave the Finns the chance to pull away again.
The absence of concentration and the very poor showing in basic aspects of the game (such as the 59 percent in free throws) showed that there is something seriously wrong with the team, that is now on a one-win-in-four record.
Illustrating the atmosphere at the Greece camp were some of the statements that followed the Finland game.
“Tomorrow only the players who want to play for the national team should play,” was the spiteful comment by Thanasis Antetokounmpo ahead of Wednesday’s game, implying some of his colleagues are reluctant to commit themselves to the national team, while he does not get so much playing time. On Tuesday he was Greece’s top scorer with 17 points.
Ioannis Papapetrou responded publicly, saying “I do not think there is anybody who does not want to play. You cannot point your finger at a player. This is not tennis, this is a team sport.”
If Greece does beat Poland to qualify after all, it will face the winner of the Wednesday game between Lithuania and Germany in the last 16.