By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
In front of a sold-out crowd in the Athens Olympic Complex Indoor Arena, commonly known around Europe as OAKA, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece got the job done for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Belgium.
In the last game for both teams before Eurobasket 2022, Giannis did his duty with 26 points in 27 minutes of action plus seven rebounds, while Tyler Dorsey also had a big game with 22 and Nick Calathes added 12 in a night of few surprises on the way to an 85-68 win.
“We shot 70% in the first half, but we got 30 points in transition, we forced turnovers and we did a lot of things the right way”, said Greek coach Dimitris Itoudis.
Greece got things under control early, leading by 21 (40-19) in the middle of the second quarter and by 16 at halftime (49-33).
Belgium managed to make it a 12-point game (49-37), but Greece made a 10-3 run (59-40) and order was restored.
Retin Obasohan with 14 points and Ismael Bako with 12 were the top scorers of the losing side.
“After a point, we decided to just protect our players and get ready for the Eurobasket where we should be smart in some games, cause we have a chance of qualification”, said Belgium coach Dario Gjergja adding that “playing at such an arena was a great test for us and the game vs Georgia in the Eurobasket”.
The 19,443 fans in Athens set a new attendance record for FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers.
Thanks to this win, Greece has a solid 4-2 record in Group I of the qualifiers, while Belgium dropped to 3-3 in a two-way tie with Serbia for the third place.