Greece beats Georgia to clinch top spot for FIBA World Cup 2019



Greece took sole possession of first place in Group L after an 81-69 defeat of Georgia in the Ethniki’s penultimate qualifier for the 2019 FIBA World Cup…

Greece is all alone atop the Group L standings after a solid 81-69 defeat of Georgia went unmatched by Germany, who lost to Israel in Thursday’s qualifying action for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

In the Ethniki’s penultimate qualifier ahead of summer’s tournament in China, Greece bounced back from their lone loss on the road to China with a convincing win over a Georgia side that was determined to climb the group standings.

A dominant start from the Ethniki, fueled by the passionate support of the home crowd in Heraklion, helped Greece grab an early 23-14 lead before stretching their advantage to 44-31 by halftime.

Greece’s lead grew, albeit barely, in the second half as the Ethniki continued to control the tempo of the contest with Thanasis Skourtopoulos’ men holding a 66-51 lead heading into the final frame.

Georgia enjoyed their best quarter of the game in the final period, but an 18-15 run from the Georgians was nowhere near enough to worry the Ethniki, who improved to 10-1 on their campaign with the win.

Greece’s near-perfect record means the Ethniki, who already qualified for the World Cup back in September, will finish ahead of Germany for first place in the group regardless of the showdown between the two sides in Bamberg on Sunday.

Germany, who will join Greece in China next summer, is slated to finish second in the group regardless of their performance in the group’s final slate of fixtures; however, a shock loss for Serbia against Estonia Thursday night could see Israel or Georgia pip the Serbs for the third and final qualifying spot.

by Peter Katsiris

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