Giannis Antetokounmpo displayed his defensive virtues in the final seconds of the EuroBasket 2022 Group 3 opener, “locking in” Greece’s victory over Croatia and ensuring an ideal opening for the Men’s National Team.
The representative team won 89-85 against “Hrvatska”, took the first derby and now focuses on tomorrow (3/9, 22:00), against the “host” Italy, in Milan.
The small ball chosen by the federal coach, Dimitris Itoudis, in the first half, as a result of his decision to protect his “towers”, Kostas Antetokounmpo and George Papagianni, combined with the rhapsody of Tyler Dorsey, ensured a safety difference in the “blue and white ”, which kept her away from reversals in the “dead” spaces she presented in the replay.
In order to avoid the upset, however, the defensive determination of Giannis Antetokounmpo was mobilized, who with two decisive blocks in the last minutes, an impressive reverse nailing, after an assist by Nick Kalathy and another “goal-foul”, brought smiles to the final “blue and white”.
The quarters: 16-24, 30-46, 62-70, 85-89
The expatriate guard stepped on one three-pointer after another, Antetokounmpo either distributed to Thanasis who scored 5 consecutive points, or scored in the paint and with shots and the 10-3 became with summary procedures 12-20 with a partial 17-2 for the Hellas.
The Croatians tried to reduce but in vain with the National team dominating the rebounds and Papapetrou succeeding in the finale of the first quarter with an aggressive and difficult basket to make it 16-24.
At the start of the second period, our National Team continued with incredible defenses and forced the Croatians into many mistakes.
From then on, the Croatians equalized somewhat thanks mostly to a time-out by Mulaomerovic and Giannis leaving the floor due to his second personal foul.
In the first five minutes, however, both Greece and Croatia did not play defense, as a result of which our national team conceded 21 points.
Itoudis called a timeout at 2:15, with Giannis receiving a block from Zubats, Simon scoring with a hook for 82-84 and Dorsey – Giannis not cooperating as they wanted resulting in the error at 79″. Papanikolaou and Giannis played great defense on Zubacs and right after, Giannis nailed Kalathis’ alley-up pass to make it 82-86 at 46.2″. It was an incredible stretch, from defense to offense, with Mulaomerovic calling a timeout, Simon missing a 3-pointer and Giannis cutting up Smith’s 3-pointer before running into the open court and making a foul shot to make it 82-89. match.