Tue, Sep 27, 2005 - Page 18 News List

Greece defeats Germany in Euro Championship

AP , BELGRADE, SERBIA-MONTENEGRO

Greek players celebrate their win over Germany to secure the European Championship in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro on Sunday. Greece beat Germany 78-62.

PHOTO: AP

Greece won the European Championship basketball title for the second time Sunday when it beat Germany 78-62 behind 22 points by Theodoros Papaloukas.

The Greek defense frustrated Dirk Nowitzki, the tournament's MVP and top scorer, who scored 23 points but went only 1-for-8 from the 3-point range. He had nine rebounds but also four turnovers.

Greece won its first title at home in 1987 and this time it must have felt like playing at the Olympic Hall in Maroussi.

Seven planeloads of Greek fans arrived Sunday to join those already in the Serbian capital and the full 20,000-seat Belgrade Arena was awash in blue-and-white Greek colors. After the final buzzer, the winners broke into a "Zorba the Greek" dance.

"It was a dream final for us, we showed a great team spirit and tonight I don't think that any team in Europe could have beaten us," said Papaloukas, whose team did not include any NBA players.

The game was decided in the third quarter when Greece went hot from 3-point range, making three straight at the start of the period, two of them by Papaloukas.

When Papaloukas hit another with 1:53 left in the third, Greece had a 17-point lead and the game was all but over.

Nowitzki, who had carried Germany virtually single-handedly to the final, left the game with 3:22 remaining to a standing ovation.

"We are happy with what we achieved. Greece was simply the better team," Nowitzki said.

When the Dallas Mavericks star was presented at the medal ceremony, the crowd chanted his name and gave him another ovation. He finished the tournament averaging 26.1 points.

Germany won its first medal since claiming the title at home in 1993.

"They were just a step quicker," said Germany coach Dirk Bauermann.

Center Patrick Femerling added 11 points for Germany.

Greece made seven of 21 3-point attempts while Germany went 3-for-16.

Nikolaos Zisis had 13 points for Greece and Michail Kakiouzis added 11.

"We played our best game in the tournament. Now I am on top of Europe, not as a player but as coach," said Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis, who played on the 1987 team.

Earlier, Tony Parker scored 25 points to lift France to a 98-68 victory over Spain in the bronze-medal game, giving France its first medal at the European Championship since a silver in 1959.

Parker, the point guard for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, ran into the stands after the game to celebrate with about two dozen singing French fans.

Mickael Pietrus of the Golden State Warriors added 23 points for France, which dominated the boards, getting 41 rebounds compared to 25 for Spain.

Juan Carlos Navarro had 17 points for Spain.

celebrations

Thousands of Greeks poured into the streets of Athens to celebrate their country's championship.

Fans paraded down major Athens avenues draped in Greek flags while car horns blared and fireworks lit up the night sky.

Most gathered at central Omonia Square, the usual gathering place for sport-related celebrations. They formed long lines of traffic swamped in a sea of blue and white, the color of the Greek flag.

In Thessaloniki, thousands gathered at the White Tower, and at the central Aristotelous Square, fans watched the match on a giant television screen.

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