The Greek team, ranked second in the world and playing at their 16th Games, have never finished on the podium in water polo before, but are now guaranteed at least silver in Tokyo.
Greece, who beat Hungary 10-9 in the group stages, seized the initiative early and never relinquished it, ending the first three quarters with their noses in front and outscoring their opponents 4-2 in the fourth to pull away.
At these Olympics, Greece topped Group A in preliminary play with four wins and one draw. In the same pool, Hungary raked in three wins, a draw, and one loss — that sole defeat a 9-10 fall to the Greeks.
In Friday’s semifinal rematch, Greece managed an even bigger victory over Hungary 6-9. The score remained close throughout the first three quarters, but Greece stacked a 5-4 lead in the final eight minutes with four back-to-back-to-back-to-back points.
Centre forward Stylianos Argyropoulos Kanakakis led the attack with four goals, while their defence combined well to stop Hungary’s Krisztian Manhercz, restricting the in-form playmaker to two goals from five attempts.
Ioannis Fountoulis, Angelos Vlachopoulos, Konstantinos Gkiouvetsis and Dimitrios Skoumpakis did the hard work in the final period, helping them to establish a three-goal lead before running down the clock to win the game.
“I want to apologize for the joy and enthusiasm we are displaying for after our victory. Our hearts and minds are with Greece” says the water polo captain, Yannis Foundoulis.