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Greece 84, Germany 76

After the jump, you can find my live blogging thoughts on the Eurobasket game between Greece and Germany.  Greece remained undefeated in the tournament, although it did not come easily.  MBFGC was impressive, finished with 14 points, 2 blocks and 2 steals, and one monster jam.  He's tough to handle, there's no question about that. 

If you're interested, you can watch Greece vs. Germany on ESPN360 right now.  The first quarter ended a few minutes ago with Hellas ahead 25-19.  MBFGC entered the game late in the quarter, drew a foul on the first possession, then drew two more including an and-one.  Fouls were in fact the story of the quarter - Greece took 18 first quarter free throws, compared to one for Germany.  Sofo finished the quarter with 4 points, 1 for 1 from the field, 2 for 3 from the line.

Start of Second Quarter - Greece starts the second quarter with both Bourousis and Sofo on the floor.  Bourousis has some nice range, so Sofo is the low block guy on offense, despite the fact that Bourousis is quite a bit taller. 

A great stretch here for Sofo.  The final possession of the first quarter, he converted a three point play.  The second possession of the second quarter, he drew another foul (although he missed both free throws on that one).  Then he came up with a steal on defense, and set the screen that freed Spanoulis for a jump shot.  It sort of goes with saying, but the guy sets a nasty screen.  Especially nasty in Europe, where they let you move all over the place.

End of second quarter - I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm pretty sure that Sofo has played at least 10 minutes of the first half, which is higher pace than he usually plays.  He's been his usual unstoppable self around the basket, but unfortunately has not been the automatic finisher that he usually is.  He has missed two bunnies after making moves to get right to the rim, which is not like him at all. 

On the other end, also not like him, he has a couple of blocked shots and a steal, so he's been very active. 

Spanoulis has been Greece's best player.  When Spanoulis and Sofo are on the floor together, it's pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll, which may sound familiar to anyone who remembers the USA-Greece game from the 2006 Worlds.  Sofo is a touch cover on the pick-and-roll.  There's not really a good way to play it.  If you switch it, you've got a guard trying to check a 350 pound mountain (Kirk Hinrich is probably still having nightmares 3 years later).  If you show, Sofo is going to get some space on his roll to the basket, and by the time you stop him, he's deep in the paint.  (He's like the X-Man Juggernaut - once he gets some momentum, you can't stop him.)

Start of the second half - Greece took an 8 point lead into half time.  It looks like Koufos got the second half start at center for Hellas, which seems strange.  Bourousis sat out the final game of the prelims, but that was just for rest, since the game was meaningless.  However, Bourousis seems to be getting more rest in this one.

Sofo enters the second half with about 3 and half minutes left.

Germany is hanging around, hanging around. They cut a 10 point lead to 4 towards the end of the first half - and Greece immediately hit consecutive threes to stretch the lead back to 10.  Germany cut it to 4 again in the secon half, but it seems like Greece can respond when they need to.  Still, if they let them hang around the whole time, it could be a problem.

Interestingly, Germany has plenty of length to send at the Greeks.  Veteran Patrick Femerling and youngsters Pleiss and Ohlbrecht are all legitimately seven feet tall.  BUT.. Sofo is SO much stronger.  He just dropped stepped on Pleiss, almost put him in the second row, and then rocked the basket with a two handed stuff:  Greece back up by 11.  Look for the highlight on YouTube soon.  It was Shaq-esque.

The Greeks have a small forward named Printezis who has looked good.  He's got an NBA-type game, able to put the ball on the floor.  He has good form on his jumper, and although he has not made a lot of threes, he's taking them with confidence which makes me think he's got the green light.  So who has his NBA rights?  The Spurs of course, who just stockpile young Euro players.

Start of the fourth quarter.  Greece's first possession, deep post position for Sofo.  One thing he does very well is he's patient.  He knows he's the biggest and strongest guy out there.  He doesn't really have to hurry his shot, because he tends to create more space the longer he waits.  So he'll make the catch deep, and rather than rushing the shot because he's worried that help is coming, he gathers himself, takes stock of the defense, and finishes the shot.  That's one reason his shooting percentage is so high - obviously he's getting good looks, but he doesn't blow many of them (first half today, notwithstanding).

Sofo leaves the game with about seven and a half minutes left, Greece up nine.  He may be done, if Greece can put the game away without him.  I have him at 12 points, 4 for 6 shooting, 4 for 7 from the line.

Germany cuts the lead to six on a three-pointer, under  six minutes to go, but Greece responds with Spanoulis to Koufos on the pick and roll for the dunk.

Timeout Deutschland, down 6 with the ball.  If they can score here, it's a ball game.

Sofo returns for the las 4:05.  Germany had cut the lead to four, but two Zisis free throws trickled in to stretch it back to 6, followed by a breakaway dunk for an 8 point lead.

After Germany cut it to 6 again, Sofo went up for an frankly ugly rightie jump hook that went in, plus the foul.  He missed the free throw, Greece got the rebound, Spanoulis hit a three, and that, meine freunde, is the ball game.

Final score - Greece 84, Germany 76.

A quick word about Team Deutschland.  When I've watched them with Dirk in recent years, it seems as if they've had nothing else.  Steffen Hamann has been their best backcourt player, for instance.  Well, they've had a couple of players look pretty good in this game.  This guy Benzing can play some, as can Harris.  If they can qualify for the worlds, and Dirk plays, they could be good.  On the other hand, I'm not sure that they need Kaman much.  They've been able to run several effecive bigs out there.  None of them are going to give you a straight post up game, so Kaman is better in that regard.  But they've played well.