Greece one game away from the Olympics

Dominant second half propels Greeks past Turkey (video)

Greece’s men’s basketball team overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Turkey 81-63 Saturday in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, Canada and will face the Czech Republic Sunday for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.

Greece immediately fell behind, 9-2 and 17-6; Turkey got its maximum lead of 14 points right at the end of the first quarter (22-8) and early in the second (25-11).

“We were nervous in the first half,” Greece’s coach, Rick Pitino, said at the press conference after the game. “You go out, you have wide open shots, you don’t make (them), you get tight, it bothers you. Just play defense,” he added.

That’s what Greece did in the second quarter, limiting Turkey to 9 points, but were still tight offensively and ended the half 34-27 behind.

“At half time, I kept reiterating ‘when we get the lead, please don’t relax. We are going to get the lead early in the third quarter, don’t relax. Did I 100 percent believe it? Well, 50-50,” Pitino said.

Whatever else he told them, Greece came storming out of the break, taking the lead for the first time (37-34) through a Dinos Mitoglou 3-pointer 3 minutes into the second half. A 10-0 surge allowed Greece to take a double-digit lead (49-39), but, in the final two minutes, Turkey cut the lead to four (47-51).