Greece suffers ignominious exit from Eurobasket 2001

Greece was eliminated from the European Basketball Championship quarter-finals last night, following its 80-75 loss to Germany in Antalya, Turkey. Greece scored the first 15 points of the game and built up a healthy lead of up to 22 points (32-10) in the first half against a seemingly hopeless German team. However, it allowed the Germans back into the game; they cut the Greeks’ halftime lead to 47-31. The second half was a disaster for the Greek team; the Germans out-rebounded them (41 to 24 in total), outran and outscored them. In the tense dying seconds of the game, guard Theodoros Papaloukas scored only one in six free throws, helping the Germans clinch the game. Perhaps the decisive moment came 14 seconds before the end, when Papaloukas hit a three-pointer that would have tied the score at 77. However, the basket was disallowed because Marco Pesic had fouled Papaloukas when he set up the shot. Entitled to only two free throws, Papaloukas missed both. Still, the fact that Greece allowed Germany to come back into the game was shameful, recalling their worst days from the previous European Championships in 1999 when they lost all three of their games. The team will now return to Athens empty-handed having failed to make the top five – its avowed minimum goal – that would allow it to qualify for the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis. This will be the first World Championships Greece will miss since 1982. Overall, the team suffered from several ups and downs in its offense and defense, often during the same game. While it controlled its initial game with European champions Italy, it almost let it slip from its hands, before forward Frangiskos Alvertis sealed the 83-82 win with a buzzer-beater. Against Russia, things went awry from the start. The Russians were simply too fast for the Greek team, and won easily 106-81. Greece appeared unable to play two matches in a row and coach Costas Petropoulos came under fire for his tactics and the choice of starting players. Sharing the stage with Steiger is Greek actress Maria Lambrou, along with six dancers. The production’s concept was developed by Tassos Alexopoulos and Bernd Kammermeier and the script is by Kammermeier and Michael Pfrommer. Light design is by Egon Werdin.

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