Despite beating the Czech Republic 84-77, Greece has bowed out of the 2019 FIBA World Cup because of an inferior point differential.
In order to progress to the quarter-finals, Greece needed to beat the Czech Republic by 12 points, but the Episimi Agapimeni could only manage a seven-point victory. A 12-point win would have been good enough to qualify – assuming Brazil lose to the US later on – based on point differential of games between the teams tied.
Greece leaves the tournament with three victories and two defeats in five matches. The 79-78 loss to Brazil in the first group stage turned out to be decisive in the team’s downfall.
Nick Calathes scored 27 points for Greece, while Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 12 points and was fouled out in the fourth quarter amid hugely controversial decisions made by the referee. Thanasis Antetokounmpo caught the eye with his passion and energy, picking up 11 points.
Tomas Satoransky kept the Czechs ticking with 13 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. Jaromir Bohacik scored 25 points.
The Czech Republic drained 21 of 22 free throws. Greece only scored 10 out of 18.
Greece came flying out of the blocks in a powerful start. Immediately taking the initiative, the team were up by six points after the first quarter, pressing the Czechs with intense play.
However, in the second frame, the Czechs suddenly came roaring back in the last few minutes to suddenly snatch a one-point advantage by half time. As usual, it was Satoransky causing the opposing defense problems, as he created momentum for his team with intelligent play.
The Episimi Agapimeni gave themselves a chance by stepping up their game in the third quarter.
Understanding the importance of the moment, the Greeks won the third frame 25-16, and they then made a superb start to the fourth quarter by managing to pick up the critical 12-point lead.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last for long.
The Czech Republic refused to back down. Showing credible character, they steered their seemingly sinking ship, even getting to within two points of Greece in the closing stages. Giannis Antetokounmpo was controversially fouled out with 05:32 left.
A three-pointer from Nick Calathes with just over a minute remaining handed Greece a seven-point lead. Calathes repeated the trick with four seconds left on the clock to increase the advantage to nine points, meaning one more three-pointer would have taken Greece through.
A foul in the next play consequently allowed the Czech Republic to convert two free throws and kill all Greek hope of qualifying.
Group K standings:
USA, 8 points*
Czech Republic, 8 points
Greece, 8 points
Brazil, 7 points*
*USA and Brazil to play at 15:30 GR time today
*For more sports head to AGONASport