FIRST QUARTER

-Rubio and Spanoulis are playing each other tough. Picking up fullcourt, getting physical. That’s really the only way you can get Double R out of his rhythm. For Spanoulis, I’m afraid he might thrive on it. Vassilis’ boys are up 8-7.

-Marc Gasol takes Sofo through the spin cycle. Zisis answers to keep Hellas on top.

-I’m admittedly not Jorge Garbajosa’s biggest fan, but if he knocks down open jumpers then it’s hard to argue he shouldn’t be out there. Yet I still try.

-And that’s why: he can’t get a handle on a (bad) pass by Navarro and Fotsis just breaks away and beats Jorge in a foot race to the cup. His legs really are just shot to hell. Not his fault.

-Antonis Fotsis hammered by Alex Mumbru. Half the arena wanted a flagrant, but I say let ’em play. These teams are too great to get the help of the refs. After the ugly first half we witnessed in the Croatia-Serbia game, some flow wouldn’t kill anyone. Fotsis to the line for two…

-Greece playing much better team ball early. Spain’s trying but it’s just not working out for them. Passes sailing wide, Rudy lobbing it inside six feet above Gasol’s reach.

-By the way, kinda nice with only one of the Gasol brothers playing tonight. I’ll never really have to specify, and it easier on both of us.

-That’s why Sergio Llull is my homeboy. Comes in off the bench and sinks a three, gives Spain some energy.

-And the first quarter ends with Felipe Reyes tipping in his own miss at the buzzer. It really is nice to see somebody helping out Marc down there. Let’s get some Fran Vazquez love in the second quarter, how about it?

SECOND QUARTER

-My wish is granted: Vazquez in there, hits a jumper to put España up 24-21.

-Rubio misses a chance to push it ahead, very uncharacteristic for him. He’s fouled in the open court so no worries.

-Who says he’s got no shot? Rubio wets the midrange J and his bys are up 7. Greece needs to respond in a hurry. Zisis hits another jumper to give him 8 for the game on 4/4 shooting. He looks terrific. Wow. Make that 5/5. This is the best I’ve seen Nikos play. I’ve always liked him, he just kind of has that Milenko Tepic-ness about him: at times passive and slightly inconsistent.

-He’s human after all and finally misses one from a foot inside the arc. That’s been enough to get him out of his rhythm in the past; he needs to keep his chin up and keep poppin’. He’s been their only consistent source of offense for the better part of this game and the reason Greece cut Spain’s 7-point lead to 1 in only a few minutes. It’s 28-27.

-Ricky gives the people what they want to see. Drive to the paint and then slings it over his shoulder to Gasol who does the work. The more I think about it, maybe the Grizzlies should’ve taken Ricky instead of Hasheem “D-League” Thabeet.

-37-31 Spain’s up at the half. Time to see if people think that score will stick:

HAFLTIME POLL

Greece is down 37-31 at the half. Who will win?

View Results

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Spain: Juan Carlos Navarro 7, Jorge Garbajosa 5, Ricky Rubio 4, Marc Gasol 4, Fran Vazquez 4

Greece: Nikos Zisis 10, Vassilis Spanoulis 6, Dimitris Diamantidis 5, Sofoklis Schortsanitis 5

If you just blur your eyes and look at the names on those two teams above, it’s clear which of them are Greek. I love it. They all sound like Gods or Spartan warriors. I love it.

THIRD QUARTER

-By the way, big shouts to the fans from both teams, although I’ll say that Greece’s chants win the organization award. Can somebody please teach me? I feel like a loser sitting here in the press zone, missing all the action.

-Navarro slices in with the Euro step and floats it in. Under control, calculated drive. Spain could use more of that, but Greece is clogging everything up on Spain’s drives. Spain is up by a thrice.

-Looks like we got six votes up top on the halftime poll. Frankly, a single vote would’ve pleased me given the short notice, so let’s see if we can hit 20 by the end of the game. For the record, I have no issues with you voting twice.

-Rudolph is playng big. Yams one baseline a few plays after going chest-to-chest with Sofo on the drive and laying it off glass.

-Greece with back-to-back threes. Fotsis and then Diamantidis, who was one of the guys ELA said needed to step up in the next round.

-Looks like Rudy’s the only guy showing up here in the third quarter. Another triple cuts into Greece’s lead, which is now only three.

-Greece not using Ioannis Bourousis very heavily tonight but he’s back in there with 1:50 left to go in the third. He’s played only 10 minutes and has his hand taped up pretty good.

-Just kidding on the hand tape. It was a mirage.

-Sergio Llull is not a mirage. He is very real, and very ballerific. Lays it in on the break and Spain has reclaimed the lead in Istanbul, 52-51.

-When Greece moves the ball around like they have been these last few minutes they can beat anyone. Spain did a hell of a job to close the quarter off though, as Greece took the shot clock down to nothing and couldn’t get off the shot they needed. Spain has a narrow lead, 52-51, and we’ll play ten more minutes (at least).

FOURTH QUARTER

-Spain comes out with no Ricky, no Juan Carlos, no Rudy. Interesting.

-Diamantidis nails a three but Spain answers back in a big way with an alley-oop to Vazquez, a tip-in by Reyes (after Vazquez kept a Raul Lopez miss alive with the offensive board) and then a Sergio Llull coast-to-coast try that ended with a goaltend. Spain back up by four, but Greece sure won’t go quietly.

-Spain sticking with the 2-3 zone and this same line-up. Gotta say, Coach Scariolo knows his personnel. The zone has done wonders.

-This Greek team moves the ball so well it’s scary. I have a tough time understanding why zone is their kryptonite. My guess is the same thing that bothered me coming into the tournament: no forwards to drive when the gaps present themselves. The guys best suited for the job, Kostas Kaimakoglou and Giorgos Printezis, haven’t played a single minute in this one.

-Rudy’s a crafty one. He gets fouled on the three and knocks down the first two, empty on the third.

-And one Ricky Rubio steal later, Navarro’s streaking to the hoop to finish in transition. All of the sudden Spain’s doubled their four-point lead.

-Zisis probably should’ve given it up to Fotsis on the break but takes the three himself instead. The way he’s been shooting, though, he can do what he wants. He’s Greece’s leading scorer with 16 (Diamantidis tied with the same total).

-Sofo with the 3-point play to keep Greece alive at 63-70, then Navarro gets fouled by Fotsis midcourt and calmly hits them both.

-Sofoklis Schortsanitis does not want to get on a plane tomorrow. Grabs the offensive rebound, puts it on the floor and erupts through Felipe Reyes. Foul and the basket. Will he knock down the free throw? It would make it 65-72.

-It says here Antonis Fotsis has only taken five 3-pointers, but I’m not buying it. I’ll go with 25. Seems like every time I look up he’s launching.

-The ELA coverboy, Nic Calathes is back in there but he’s done nothing to justify his place on the homepage. His only statistics this game include a steal, a personal foul and a missed shot in under four minutes.

-Jonas Kazlauskas really wants to extend this game. Been fouling early in the shot clock since 1:20 remained. If it’s Felipe Reyes like the first time, I understand; unfortunately it’s been Navarro and Rubio that have gone to the line since Felipe missed both of his. Double their guards and let it come to Felipe or Marc to make this strategy pay off. Might be too late now.

-And it’s over. Sergio Llull all alone on the break and puts it at 80-69.

-Fotsis hits one more three as the rim lights up, but it won’t matter. Greece has fallen in the round of 16. Spain moves on to face the Serbs. Your final score is 80-72. The world champs aren’t done just yet.

-Props to the Greek fans, hanging around post-defeat and chanting up a storm. These two nations’ fans—at least the ones present here tonight—respect the hell out of each other.

Your statistics:

Spain: Juan Carlos Navarro: 22 points, 5/5 from 2-pt; Felipe Reyes: 6 points, 10 rebounds; Rudy Fernandez: 14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Fran Vazquez: 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block; Ricky Rubio: 6 points, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover; Sergio Llull: 9 points, 2 assists

Greece: Nikos Zisis: 16 points, 4 rebounds, fouled out; Dimitris Diamantidis: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists; Vassilis Spanoulis: 12 points, 3 assists, 4 turnovers; Antonis Fotsis: 12 points, 7 rebounds