Greece: The Gods of Comebacks
Greece pulled off a miracle comeback to knock off Slovenia 63-62 in the quarterfinals of Eurobasket on Friday (Read Jay Aych's game analysis). After managing just 49 points in the game's first 37 1/2 minutes, Greece put together a 14-1 run in the last 2 1/2 minutes to win it.
The Greeks trailed by 12 with 2:40 to play and then by 7 points with a minute left. Theo Papaloukas was huge as usual in the clutch, with a wild 3pter, a steal, and then a driving game-winning bucket with about 6.7 seconds left. What a winner that guy is.
Here's the final minute, with the crazed broadcast call almost as entertaining as the comeback itself (and what's up with Slovenia jacking up a jumper with a 1-point lead and :10 on the shot clock with :15 left overall?):
As Jay Aych pointed out to me, this Greek comeback was eerily similar to their rally in the Eurobasket 2005 semis, when they trailed France by 7 with :40 left (Game story). Here are the video highlights of that one (the clip gets to the final minute of the game at about the 2:00 mark):
If that's not enough, watch this one - Greece came back from down 5 with a minute left vs. Australia in the 2006 Worlds, with Papaloukas contributing a beautiful poke steal and then Nikos Zisis nailing the buzzer-beater:
And remember that Greece also came back from a 13-point second-half deficit vs. Croatia earlier in this tournament, winning on this buzzer-beating three by V. Spanoulis:
All in all, Greece is 6-0 in games decided by 3 pts. or less and/or OT in the 2005 Eurobasket, the 2006 Worlds, and the 2007 Eurobasket.
And one thing I noticed is that a different guy hit the game-winning shot each time in the four clips above: in order, it was Papaloukas, Diamantidis, Zisis and Spanoulis.
Great stuff. Too bad it's not on U.S. TV. Looks like it's Mediazone.com only for the medal round - it's Spain v Greece and Lithuania v Russia in the semis on Saturday.
Spain has to be a big favorite as a) they've handled Greece easily in recent meetings, b) are at home, and c) had a day of rest while Greece fought for its life today.
That should set up an all-important bronze medal game between Greece and the loser of Lithuania-Russia, with a bid to Beijing on the line.
The Lithuania-Russia game looks like a tossup. All things being equal, Lithuania would probably be a slight favorite, but they had to work for a 74-72 win over Croatia today while Russia had a rest day, and Lith. leader Saras Jasikevicious looks less than 100% with his leg injury.