SPORTS

Russia too strong for the Greeks

The national basketball team has ended up at the third spot of its group at the second stage of the European Championship in Lithuania after going down to hitherto unbeaten Russia with an 83-67 score on September 10.

The results of the day, with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia beating Slovenia and Greece succumbing to Russia meant that with one more game to play Greece has definitely qualified to the quarterfinals and will finish third in its group.

In the crucial knock-out stage of the last eight Greece will face the loser of the match between Spain and France, for a place in the semifinals of the Eurobasket.

For yet another game Greece had a good first half, leading for long spells against a team boosted by NBA star Andrei Kirilenko.

The combined force of Kosta Koufos and Yiannis Bourousis in Greece?s front line contained Kirilenko and the other forwards of Russia, including a spectacular block by Bourousis on the Utah Jazz star.

The Greeks went on to lead 38-33 toward the end of the first half, but that was the last lead Greece enjoyed in the game. The Russians registered a 9-1 partial score until the end of the second period to close the first half leading 42-39.

The second half was very different, given that Greece?s attack was far less productive, while in defense Greece conceded the highest number of points in the tournament so far.

While the players of coach Ilias Zouros had scored five out of five three-pointers halfway through the second period, for the rest of the game at Vilnius they hit the target just once in 16 attempts.

Russia was prolific in attack in what was generally a spectacular game, and deserved the victory they got, although the picture of the match was not that of a 16-point game.

Koufos had a particularly good game with 15 points. Nikos Zisis and Antonis Fotsis scored 10 points each.

Greece?s next game with Georgia on Monday will have no bearing on the national team?s position in the group.