Spain started the path to the Eurobasket with a stumble that leaves a bittersweet aftertaste. In the first preparatory game for the Eurobasket on Tuesday, Scariolo’s team was clearly defeated by the Greeks, who presented their candidacy after an 86:70 victory in Athens. A complicated debut for the renewed Spanish team, who started with many doubts but in the end showed they have what it takes to be a competitive team.
The meeting served to see Lorenzo Brown’s debut with Spain, a starter against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team. The national team’s point guard provided the first basket of the game with a great assist for Willy Hernangómez, but from then on the Greek giants were the game’s owner (31 points, 10 rebounds and three assists). Greece has one of the best players in the world, but he’s been much more than a sidekick to the two-time NBA MVP. Calathes found the transition passes with amazing ease and Dorsey capitalized on the gaps Spain had left by focusing on covering Giannis.
After a balanced start, Greece immediately followed suit and started bleeding on Spain. In the blink of an eye, they put on a 15-3 run that forced Scariolo to call the first time-out of the game. The offensive game had stagnated and the defense didn’t work either. The first quarter ended with a clear 31-13. At the break, without having to put pressure on Antetokounmpo, the Greeks took 50 points to Spain’s 35.
Brizuela’s success from the treble allowed Spain to drop to just 10 points in the third quarter. Having overcome the psychological barrier between two characters, Scariolo’s men let loose, helped in part by Itoudis’ decision to reserve her star. For the first time since the opening minutes, Spain managed to get just six points in the final quarter (63-57) and the Greek coach brought on Antetokounmpo again, amid MVP calls from Oaka Pavilion. The Bucks giant tipped the spot again, even bragging about the treble and liquidating Spain’s comeback attempt.
On Thursday, Scariolo’s men will retaliate against Greece in another friendly, this time at the Wizink Center in Madrid.
Greece: G. Antetokounmpo (31 points), K. Antetokounmpo (7), Calathes (7), Dorsey (11), Papanikolaou (5), grid position five; Agravanis (9), T. Antetokounmpo (3), Bochoridis (2), Gontikas (0), Kalaitzakis (4), Kaselakis (2), Larentzakis (3), Lountzis (0) and Papapetrou (2).
Spain: Brown (7 points), J. Hernangómez (4), W. Hernangómez (15), Lopez-Arostegui (4), Pradilla (10), grid position five; Brizuela (8), Colom (3), J Fernandez (3), Rudy (3), Parra (0), Saiz (8), Sima (3) and Yusta (2).
partially: 31-13; 19-22; 13-22; 23-13.
Olympic Pavilion Oaka, Athens. 15,000 spectators.
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