Greece can win, claims coach

Panayiotis Yiannakis, the coach of Greece’s national basketball team, has not written off today’s World Championship semifinal against the United States. Far from it. Asked about his team’s chances at the game, he replies, «Fifty-fifty.» Most of his players, though, concede that the US team has a better chance of advancing into Sunday’s final. Yiannakis’s recipe for an upset is simple. «No turnovers and gaining the defensive rebounds,» he says. The rebounding part is going to be the most difficult: Greece does not have many leapers and it will have to do it the hard way, with teamwork, by blocking out players. The Greek team has proven it can be a formidable opponent, but the game with the US will demand a high level of concentration throughout and none of the lapses that left Greece having to come from behind to beat Qatar, Lithuania, Australia, Brazil, Turkey and China. Yiannakis will need to get the best out of all 11 players at his disposal, after the withdrawal, through injury, of guard Nikos Zisis. That should include giving more minutes to forward Dimos Dikoudis, the only player not used in the quarterfinal against France. As a blogger remarked on the championship’s official website, «(Greece’s) genius is taking away the things you do well.» In the US’s case this would be their open-court, fast-tempo game. The Americans, on their part, are insisting they are not complacent. «The semifinals will be a heck of a game,» US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. «The Greek team plays defense about as well as anybody in the world. Their coach is a very good friend of mine and someone I admire. They are a championship team. They play with that type of solidarity, and we’re going to have to play better, because they are a strong and mature basketball team.»