Second time around not as passionate

Greece became European Basketball Champion on Sunday for the second time in its history and only 200 people turned up at the airport yesterday to meet the champions. Despite the TV channels’ attempt to play up last night’s celebrations and compare them with Greece’s win in 1987, they were subdued by comparison. Have we all become jaded? Or do we expect a Greek team to win every time? Probably not. After all, the final itself – a 78-62 victory over Germany – was distinctly anticlimatic, following Saturday’s high drama against France. In Sunday’s final, we also witnessed something extremely rare in international competition, a coach throwing in the towel well before the final whistle. Dirk Bauerman’s decision to pull off his one and only superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, with just over three minutes to go was exactly that. For without Nowitzki, this German team was a collection of mediocrities who would never have advanced into the final eight, let alone the final, by themselves. Greek coach Panayiotis Yiannakis is the one real link with the 1987 team, which beat the Soviet Union, 103-101, in a thrilling overtime final, in Athens. This team is built in his image: hard-working, never giving up and never losing concentration. It even carries some of his vices as a player, such as poor three-point shooting.

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