Greece in the Final after surprising victory over the United States
IT's important to mention that Vasileios Spanoulis scored 22 points and Michail Kakiouzis added 15 for Greece, which shot a sizzling 62.5 percent from the floor to pull off the upset. In fact, the Greeks are not a basketball lightweight, having won the European championship in 2005.
Sure, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points for the United States, while Dwyane Wade chipped in 19. The Americans shot 50 percent from the field overall, but struggled from three-point range and from the free throw line. That was the bad part.
We can say that the U.S. made only 9-of-28 shots from beyond the arc and hit just 20-of-34 foul shots for a dismal 58.8 percentage.
In one of their most important achievements, Greece will now play for the gold medal Sunday against Spain, which posted a 75-74 triumph over Argentina in Friday's other semifinal. The Americans will face Argentina for the bronze medal on Saturday.
It's also important to mention that the United States will have to qualify for the 2008 Olympics next summer in Venezuela at the FIBA Americas Tournament.
Both squads were unbeaten entering the semifinals and the Americans appeared headed toward the title game after taking a 20-14 lead following the first quarter.
Greece, though, heated up over the next three quarters.
The United States held a 33-21 edge midway through the second period. However, the Greeks answered with nine straight points as part of a 22-5 run. Sofoklis Schortsanitis had eight points during the surge, which gave Greece a 43-38 lead.
According to the reports, the Greeks went into the break with a 45-41 lead, then turned it up a notch in the third quarter. Greece drained 14-of-18 field goal attempts in the period and led by as many as 14 before taking a 77-65 cushion into the fourth.
The United States basketball team chipped away in the final stanza and clawed within 95-91 with 36 seconds to play on a three-pointer by Kirk Hinrich, but the Greeks were able to hold on.
Hinrich made 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc and finished with 12 points. Cleveland player LeBron James contributed 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in defeat.
We must mention that the Americans have not won a world championship since 1994. They will have to wait until the Olympics.