“Filotimo”: The Greek feature that translates as something between pride and dignity was the redeeming one for Greek hoopsters in the match against Latvia on Thursday, as Greece came from 17 points down to win 97-90 and clinch a spot in the top-six of the Eurobasket and in the Olympic qualifying tournament of July 2016. The game marked the end of the international career of Vassilis Spanoulis.
Latvia was on top for most of the first half (leading by up to 11 points), but a good spell in the second period saw Greece edge ahead by nine (37-28). That was when it suddenly stopped scoring, allowing Latvia to run a partial 24-0 score and advance 52-37 and then 56-39.
The Greek fightback started with four minutes left in the third period, with the Greeks shaking off their disappointment from their loss to Spain and concentrating at last to the task at hand.
With a total of 60 points in the second half, the players of coach Fotis Katsikaris won in the end by seven to complete a run of seven wins and one loss in the eight games they played in the 2015 Eurobasket.
After the end of the match in Lille Spanoulis announced that this was his swansong with the national team, as he said he needs to make way for younger players.
“I am proud of what we have achieved all these years. I have been with the national team since I was 17 and I feel this is the right time for me to go. Let the other lads play for us too,” said a moved Spanoulis.
Therefore Greece has achieved the minimum of making the Olympic qualifying tournament, but it will take a significant improvement for the national team, including more teamwork, to realize its dream of landing a Eurobasket medal in the next tournament, in 2017. Without Spanoulis.