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They came closer than ever before to a historic qualification against powerhouse Russia, but the Greek players were too tired to take their 25-minute-long predominant game all the way to the end.
For 25 minutes Greece was in control, but when Alexey Shved finally found room to operate, Russia managed to secure the win, and the ticket to the EuroBasket semifinals.
It was a game that was decided in the last quarter, with Russia getting the 74-69 win, and Dmitry Khvostov sealing the outcome.
The Greek team played an outstanding game in the first half, but it would take a Herculean effort to complete the job, given that 5 players were exhausted, having played over 30 minutes each.
Greece led by 13 points in the second period (35-22), and by 11 in the third (47-36). However, the team used a very short rotation with Calathes, Giannis Bourousis, Kostas Papanikolaou, Kostas Sloukas and Giorgos Printezis staying on the court for more than 32 minutes. At the end, they simply didn’t have any energy left in the tank.
Dmitry Khovstov gave Russia a crucial 71-66 lead with 22 seconds left on the clock thanks to the biggest shot of the game, one of two free throws and by securing an offensive rebound that led to one more made free throw by Vitaly Fridzon (72-66).
Panathinaikos play-maker Nick Calathes, who had a career game with 25 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, answered with a three (72-69), but couldn’t get any closer.