VICTORIA (Canada) – At first it seemed grim for Greece.
But when the bells rang, the winners were dressed in blue and partying on center court.
Greece overcame a slow start and an early hole to beat Turkey 81-63 to reach the OQT final. They face the Czech Republic on Sunday, a victory that earns them their first trip to the Olympics since 2008.
Turning point: The third trimester. Greece completed two 10-0 runs in the frame en route to build a 10-point advantage. The Greeks stayed warm in the fourth, increasing their lead to 19 points before the final buzzer.
Greece shot 29 percent in the first half and finished the game 46.4 percent. They were down 14 points at the start – and 22-8 at the end of the first quarter – but outscored Turkey 54-29 in a dominant second half.
Heroes of the game: Nick Calathes. The 32-year-old playmaker filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. He did most of his damage with runners in the lane, but also knocked down a big three-point pointer to take Greece’s lead to 14 points in the fourth quarter and force a time-out for Turkey.
In the running: Georgios Papagiannis and Konstantinos Mitoglou both achieved a double-double for Greece. Papagiannis had 14 points and 13 rebounds, Mitoglou adding 10 points and 12 rebounds. Furkan Korkmaz led Turkey with 20 points.
Statistics don’t lie: Turkey never found their attacking rhythm, shooting 33.3% in the game. Their best player, Cedi Osman, was limited to 4 points on 2 out of 10 shots.
Greece dominated at the bottom, scoring 40 points in the paint and having a 45-35 advantage on the rebound.
At the end of the line : Greece has shown the resilience to win a tournament of this magnitude. The Greeks lost their first game but won back-to-back knockout matches to advance to the final.
Turkey turned cold at the wrong time. They entered the semi-finals with 52.8% overall and 46.9% on three points, but couldn’t connect in defeat.
They said: “We were nervous in the first half, and I’ve seen that happen a hundred times: you go out, you have shots wide open, you can’t do it, you squeeze, it bothers you. said, ‘I’m just playing defense,’ and all I kept repeating at halftime and time-outs is, ‘Please don’t relax. take the lead early in the third quarter, don’t relax. ‘ – Greece coach Rick Pitino
“The start of the match, we started really well, we did what we wanted, especially in defense. At the start of the third quarter, they reacted well … In the fourth quarter, they played smarter than us, they win the game. ” – Dogus Ozdemiroglu from Turkey