Team looking good ahead of this September’s Eurobasket

Preparing to defend its European title at the Eurobasket finals in Madrid this coming September, Greece showed impressive signs Saturday in defeating an all-star European team 101-90 in a Eurostar friendly game held in Athens. Some 10,000 fans attended the 17,000-capacity OAKA stadium. Greece displayed a wide range of options in attack against a European all-star team led by Panathinaikos coach Zelimir Obradovic with Italian national team coach Carlo Recalcati. Thodoris Papaloukas, who was awarded his FIBA European Player of the Year for 2006 on the night, was one of Greece’s top performers and scorers. The CSKA Moscow player, who has drawn interest from several NBA clubs for the new season, scored 14 points. For Greece coach and former player Panayiotis Yiannakis, the occasion also served as a reunion for the national team which was crowned European champions back in 1987. Also in attendance was Vladimir Tkatchenko of the former Soviet Union team that lost to Greece in the European final two decades ago. The towering player of the former Soviet Union had famously – and accidentally – crushed and knocked out Yiannakis for a few minutes with a descending elbow during the final. «I was very touched to see all the players, teammates and opponents from 1987,» said Yiannakis, Greece’s captain back then. «Those were special moments for me, and for all of us. I am really proud of that team, but I am also very proud of the players we have now on the national team.» Pitting the reigning European champions against a European all-star team, the Eurostar game was last staged in 1999. FIBA Europe hopes to establish it as a biennial event.

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