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Greek National Basketball Team a Step Closer to Tokyo Olympics



VICTORIA (Canada) - It wasn't over from the opening tip, but it got out of hand fast.


Greece came out on fire and didn't step off the gas in their 105-80 win against China on Thursday. The victory secures second place in Group A for the Greeks, who advance to the tournament Semi-Finals and face Turkey on Saturday.


China were eliminated with the loss, which snapped the country's streak of qualifying for nine straight Olympics - the third-longest active streak behind Australia (13) and the United States (10).


Turning point: The first quarter. Greece outscored China 28-14 in the opening frame and never looked back. Making 11 of 18 shots with an efficient inside-out offense, the Greeks came out organized and shared the ball well en route to the big early lead.


Game hero: Kostas Sloukas. Greece's veteran guard compiled 14 points and 3 assists despite playing just 15 minutes because of foul trouble. He was efficient, too, shooting 5 of 8 overall and 3 of 5 on three-pointers. In contention: Giannoulis Larentzakis led all players with 21 points, Konstantinos Mitoglou added 12 points and 7 rebounds, and point guard Nick Calathes chipped in 7 points, 8 assists and 5 boards. Qi Zhou tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds for China.


Stats don't lie: Greece shot 55.2 percent overall and made 19 of 21 free throws. The victors also scored 25 points on 15 China turnovers.


Bottom line: Greece won't be an easy out. They hung right with Canada, the heavy favorites, in a 97-91 loss and cruised past China. The Greeks play balanced and unselfishly, evidenced by 11 players in the scoring column in both of their games.


They said: "For four weeks, we've been trying to play a fast-pace style of offense, and the guys tonight executed the offense and the defense to perfection. That was as good a half as we can play." - Greece coach Rick Pitino


"This is a tuition fee they need to pay in order for them to grow up. This is a young team. We have a long way to go. " - China coach Feng Du

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