Greece thrashed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 86-54 in their first game for the European Basketball Championship in Poznan, Poland.
The national team stormed into the game, leading 18-3 at the start, and never allowed their lead to drop below 20 points from the start of the second period.
The entry of former Aris and Larissa player Jeremy Massey helped FYROM reduce the deficit from 25 points to 20 before the gap spread again to 24, with the first half ending at 52-28.
In the second half the Greeks dropped a gear, but still managed to stretch their advantage to around 30 points, peaking at 34 (69-35).
National coach Jonas Kazlauskas used all of his players in this match and all but captain Antonis Fotsis got on the scoresheet, too.
Vassilis Spanoulis led Greece’s scoring with 17 points, ahead of Yiannis Bourousis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis with 11 each. Massey scored 12 for FYROM.
“We played a serious game and we won. FYROM was not a strong opponent but we must ensure we get better day after day,” said Bourousis.
FYROM fans tried to exploit the match for political purposes.
Although their team refrained from putting on a jersey previously presented with the word Macedonia on it, the majority of fans jeered loudly during the Greek national anthem, carried flags with the Vergina Sun (the Greek symbol that used to be on the FYROM flag before it got forbidden), and brought a banner that read “Kick Hell-ASS”.
Greece’s next group game is against Croatia on Tuesday evening.