HAMAMATSU (FIBA World Championship) – Turkey showed their promise once again but old rivals Greece put paid to their unbeaten run at the FIBA World Championship in the battle for Group C supremacy.
Playing without Nikos Zisis, who broke three bones in his face in a collision with Anderson Varejao of Brazil on Wednesday, the Greeks trailed 42-37 at half-time but eventually prevailed 76-69 with Mihalis Kakiouzis and Lazaros Papadopoulos each scoring 17 points.
Greece also got a big game from Sofoklis Schortsianitis, the Olympiacos center who is new to this year’s side.
He finished with 14 points but will be best remembered for his second-half pass to Antonis Fotsis which led to a rim-rocking dunk by the forward.
"Today was a great game with the two best teams in the group," said Schortsianitis.
"Both teams gave 100%. The reason we won was because we were more concentrated in crucial moments of the game."
Turkey, due in large part to Greece’s defense, only scored five points in the third quarter and found themselves behind 54-47 after three quarters.
Serkan Erdogan kept his team in the game in the fourth quarter when he scored 10 of his game-high 30 points.
His three-ball made it 67-64 to Greece with 3:28 to play, and then Erdogan came up with a steal and finished off a break with a three-pointer to tie the game at 67-67 with just 2:52 to go.
Two Erdogan free throws tied the game for the final time at 69-69 before Vassilis Spanoulis’ three-pointer from the left corner gave Greece the lead for good at 72-69.
Spanoulis then added four free throws for the final scoreline.
Bogdan Tanjevic, the Turkey coach, missed Ersan Ilyasova’s offense, saying his 19-year-old star was worth "10 points per game".
Ilyasova sat out of the contest with an ankle injury and Cenk Akyol, another youngster, ate up many of his minutes.
But Tanjevic was pleased overall, with his team now set to face Group D’s third placed team Slovenia instead of China, with the Far East giants to take on Greece.
"We played a good game against a great opponent," Tanjevic said.
"We missed in the second half time too many balls in so many important moments of the game, and missed also Illyasova who couldn't play today, so all together I have to be proud of my team.
"They played well and challenged a very strong team, and that's a good point of the game for us."
By Jeff Taylor