FIBA World Championship 2006 - Unofficial Blog

Friday, September 01, 2006

Greece in the Final after surprising victory over the United States

The United States are out of the competition and this is a really tough moment for the American basketball. Indeed, the Americans fell short of its goal to win the title at the World Basketball Championships. The hot-shooting Greeks pulled off a 101-95 victory over Team USA in the semifinals.

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.

Spain beat Argentina in epic semifinal

It was for sure the best game in the tournament so far. Jose Calderon's free throw with 19 seconds to play lifted Spain over Olympic champion Argentina 75-74 in a semi-final at the FIBA World Basketball Championship.

In fact, the Toronto Raptors player put through the second of two free throws after being fouled for the winning point, which earned for Spain their first medal in global competition since the 1984 Olympics.

It's good to know that Spain and Greece will meet in Sunday's final.

Andres Nocioni, who played for the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls, had a final opportunity to win for Argentina but his 3-point attempt with two seconds to go bounced off the rim.

The talented Pau Gasol, a 213cm centre with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, and forward Jorge Garbajosa led Spain's scoring with 19 points each while Emauel Ginobili, a guard with the NBA San Antonio Spurs, hit 21 to lead the southamerican team.

Manu Ginobili sparked Argentina to a 21-15 lead in the first period.

However, Gasol sank a lay-up on the break, his third basket of the night, and netted a free throw on foul to put Spain up 32-30 halfway through the second quarter.

Amazingly, Argentina caught up twice with Spain, which won the 1984 silver and the 1980 bronze from the Olympics but no world championship medal.

But two free-throws by Barcelona player Juan Carlos Navarro on foul left the Iberians with a slight 40-38 lead at half-time.

Down 65-56, Argentina battled back to 69-67 with a three-pointer by Ginobili with three minutes to go.

Navarro made it 71-67 with a jumper in the paint. Gasol added two free-throws but Pepe Sanchez hit back with a three-pointer to narrow the gap to 73-70 at 1:17.

It's fair to say that Calderon sank a free throw but Ginolini hit an inside shot to make it 74-72 with 28 seconds to go.

Argentina forward Luis Scola tied the score 74-74 with two free throws on Fernandez's foul with 22 seconds to go before Calderon's winning throw from the line. It was one of the most emotional moments of Japan 2006

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