From the four-team Love Cyprus Basketball Tournament, Team Greece has sent a loud and clear message to the international hoops world: Fear us.
Team Hellas utterly torched a seemingly competitive Russia in a 101-63 laugher last night as one heck of an announcement to the 2010 FIBA World Championship field. Greek national sport media praised coach Jonas Kazlauskas for instilling “fundamental principles of stifling defense and good ball movement” in his squad, which looked as though they hadn’t missed a beat since Eurobasket 2009.
The guard-heavy quintet of Nikos Zisis, Vassilis Spanoulis, Dimitris Diamantidis, Antonis Fotsis and Ioannis Bourousis started and dominated early, jumped out to a 14-4 lead which already had Team Russia mastermind David Blatt visibly fuming; so much for any size advantage the Russians brought!
Though Russia managed to regroup a bit to close the gap to 25-18, the Greek frontcourt continued its relentless assault – Fotsis and Bourossis would finish with 20 and 16 points scored, respectively – to open up a crazy 57-32 halftime score and a 40-point lead in the fourth quarter.
In yesterday’s early Love Cyprus Basketball Tournament early game, Team Germany showed improvement over Friday’s 82-54 blowout loss to Greece but could not hold on against Croatia and fell, 77-76.
This game made for an especially welcome change in the first half: Whereas Deutschland had managed just 20 woeful points in 20 minutes against Greece, the team this time took a four-point lead into the locker room at 44-40. However, Croatia nearly ran Germany off the floor in the second half, running fast break after fast break to take a big 67-60 lead with six minutes to play.
To their credit, the Germans played themselves back into the game late, retaking the led at 72-71 with under two remaining; in fact, Croatia nearly handed the W over to Germany, as Luka Žorić missed a pair of free throws with nine seconds on the clock.
Roko Ukić led all scorers with 18 points and Marko Banić added 16 for Croatia. Tops for Germany was Demond Greene with 11.
Games in the Love Cyprus Basketball Tournament today will pit Germany against Russia and Greece against Croatia, both in Nicosia.