Greece bowed out of the 2017 Eurobasket going down 74-69 to Russia in Wednesday’s quarterfinal, as its poor shooting rate in free throws cost the national team dearly in Istanbul.
The poor contribution of the bench forced coach Costas Missas to rely mostly on just seven players for the game against a more complete side that Russia generally is.
This made the Greeks more tired in the last few minutes, with poor decisions in attack when it really mattered, and just 10 out of 20 free throws that condemned Greece to elimination.
This was despite a great performance for the first three quarters of the match, when Greece led by as much as 13 points (35-22 late in the second period), forcing Russia to play second fiddle in the game (37-31 at half-time).
However the Greek attack was running out of energy and ideas late in the third quarter and at the start of the fourth the Russians went ahead for the first time after the fifth minute of the game (55-53).
The national team tried up to the end to undo the Russians and a Nick Calathes triple 11 seconds from the end cut the distance to three points (72-69), but that was as close as Greece came.
Calathes had a spectacular game with 25 points, seven assists, three steals and five rebounds, and Giorgos Printezis scored 19 points, but that was not enough for the team that will always wonder what would have happened if Yiannis Antetokounmpo had not been injured…