Greece Beats Slovenia and Gets One Win Away From the Olympics

Greece basketball Olympics
Nick Calathes was instrumental in the win of the Greek National Team. Credit: Hellenic Basketball Federation

Greece beat Slovenia 96-68 on Saturday (6 July) afternoon and got just one win away from participating in the Olympics.

Greece reached the final of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Greece where they play the victor of Saturday’s other semi-final between Croatia and the Dominican Republic.

Thomas Walkup led Greece with 19 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13 points and four rebounds in just under 21 minutes of action. The Greek Freak appeared fresh from the initial tip against Slovenia and started the game on an and-one play. He proceeded to pour in 7 of Greece’s first 13 points, while Slovenia remained scoreless during that run.

The crucial stab was the moment Vasileios Toliopoulos knocked down a buzzer-beater from way beyond the arc, ending the first quarter with a gigantic 32-14 lead.

The crowd erupted, sounding like the roof is going to blow off on a hot Saturday afternoon in Piraeus, and it was clear that Greece were a step or two too fast for their opponents, both with the first and the second unit.

Thomas Walkup showed up and ran up the scoreboard until he had a team-high 19 points. His shots are falling, his confidence was always there, and it’s easy to see why he’s feeling at home in this arena.

Honorable mention goes out to his backcourt partners. Nick Calathes picked up 11 assists on the day, while Toliopoulos came off the bench for 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field.

For Slovenia Luka Doncic had 21 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in a losing effort for Slovenia, who missed the chance to return to the Olympics after making their Games debut in the men’s basketball competition at Tokyo 2020.

On Thursday Greece did not disappoint in front of 11,216 fans in the stands of the Peace and Friendship Stadium. Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo resting, coach Vassilis Spanoulis guided his team to a 93-71 win over the African team and secured the semi-final place against Slovenia.

In their opening game of Group B, Giannis Antetokounmpo led Greece to an impressive 109-82 win against the Dominican Republic. In just 18 minutes he finished with 32 points on 11-for-11 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, and an epic blocked shot that made all the highlight reels on social media.

How could Greece qualify for the Olympics

The tournament in Greece is one of four that opened Tuesday to settle the final four spots in the men’s basketball field for the Paris Olympics. Other tournaments are ongoing in Latvia, Puerto Rico and Spain.

The FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments include the 16 best-placed non-qualified teams from the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the three highest-ranked countries per region in the FIBA World Ranking.

Group play at all four sites continues through Thursday, with semifinal games Saturday and the title games on Sunday.

Ranking first or second in Group B of the preliminary stage would advance the team guided by Spanoulis to a single-elimination game against Croatia, Slovenia, or New Zealand in the Semifinals.

Reaching the Final earns an opportunity to clinch one Olympic Games berth available across the six countries.

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