Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Greece nail down quarters spot with win over Portugal

AP , MADRID

Portugal's Miguel Minhava prepares to take a free throw against Greece at the Madrid Arena in Spain on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Greece clinched their place in the quarter-finals of the European Basketball Championship on Tuesday with an 85-67 win over Portugal, while Croatia advanced despite an 83-70 loss to Russia.

Jorge Garbajosa led Spain's 3-point shooting, rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit to a 99-73 victory over Israel and finishing atop Group E.

"We reacted very well, raised our intensity and finally came back, but it wasn't easy," the Toronto Raptors forward said.

Spain will next face the winner of yesterday's Italy-Germany game in the knockout stages today, while Russia, who finished runner-up in Group E, will play France.

Croatia will get the winners between Lithuania and Slovenia, the tournament's two remaining unbeaten teams tomorrow, while defending champion Greece will play the loser.

Spain took control midway through the third quarter when Garbajosa converted his second straight 3-pointer -- he finished 4-of-7 for 12 points -- that turned a 57-56 deficit into a 64-57 lead.

Pau Gasol led the world champions with 26 points while Jose Calderon had 15, including a couple of 3-pointers.

"This was good news because it was important that we stayed relaxed on the court and we never panicked," Spain coach Pepu Hernandez said.

Andrei Kirilenko scored 20 points as the Russians, who led by only four points after three quarters, stretched their lead to nine early in the fourth after a 3-pointer from Zakhar Pashutin and a layup by Kirilenko.

"We woke up and played a beautiful second half," Russia coach David Blatt said. "We probably have no chance [against France] but we'll go out there to win."

Blatt said the key to stopping France was to thwarting Parker.

Dimosthenis Ntikoudis scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Greeks outscored their opponents 38-18 from inside the foul lane while also converting 10-of-18 3-point attempts.

"We are not afraid of anyone," Spanoulis said. "Greece has proved in the past that [it] can come through in the most crucial games."

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