Greek basketball returns to the Olympics after 16 years

Greek basketball returns to the Olympics after 16 years

The Greek men’s basketball team qualified on Sunday to its first Olympic Games since 2008, beating Croatia in the final of the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Piraeus.

Greece triumphed 80-69 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, sparking great celebrations by the 12,000 fans attending.

Croatia tried to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo, who did not have the best of his games on the night, but he was still extremely influential for the team coached by Vassilis Spanoulis.

Giorgos Papagiannis was Greece’s answer to the Croatian focus on closing Giannis down, as the Greek center scored time and again from a distance, keeping Greece close to the score even when the Croats went ahead in the second quarter.

Croatia had few alternatives to its impressive starting five on its bench, contrary to Greece’s multitude of options.

In the second half Greece tightened up its defense considerably, frustrating the Croats, while Nick Calathes took over as the team leader with his scoring, assists and steals.

Giannis ended up with 23 points, Papagiannis made 19 and Calathes scored 14 plus 11 assists.

The Olympic Games in Paris starts on July 26, with Greece playing in the first round at Lille.

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