|21 August 2011|
Ilias Zouros has been successful early in his reign as Greece coach at both winning games but also making his players understand that results in friendlies do not matter in the build-up to the EuroBasket.
|Kostas Koufos played alongside Yannis Bourousis in a twin-tower frontcourt formation and dominated under the boards |
So it was no surprise in Saturday's BEKO Supercup in Bamberg, Germany, that after his national side prevailed for the second day in a row by beating the hosts 69-56, Greece youngster Konstantinos Papanikolaou did not overstate its importance.
"It was a good win against a strong team," said Papanikolaou, who had four points.
"We played hard on defense and we showed a lot of energy on the court.
"But it's a preparation game and nothing more.
"We learned some useful lessons mainly from our coaches.
"We were pleased that some things we wanted to do and see we were able to do today on the court."
The player getting the lion's share of the attention in Bamberg after his return to the German national team is Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki, the EuroBasket 2005 MVP.
Unlike Friday, when the 2011 NBA Finals MVP had 17 points and led the Germans to a late win over Belgium in his first game with the national side since the 2008 Olympics, Nowitzki scored just 11 against Greece on four of 14 shooting from the floor.
Chris Kaman, the other NBA player who has returned to the fold this summer, had 15 points for the home side.
It was Greece's NBA player, 22-year-old Kostas Koufos, who led all scorers.
Koufos, who could be set for a breakout summer in the Greek shirt, had 17 points.
Ioannis Bourousis continued his fine play this summer as well for the Greeks with 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
While Greece seem to have found a winning formula despite the absence of key players Dimitris Diamantidis, Vasileios Spanoulis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Germany coach Dirk Bauermann has the challenge of blending Nowitzki and Kaman into a side that had been playing well before their arrival.
Chemistry is the catchword for the Germans now that the NBA players on onboard.
"I have repeatedly said that we do not automatically win every game just because two NBA professionals come to the team," Bauermann said.
"I'll say it again: This takes time!
"There is no linear development to be expected, but ups and downs.
"We now simply need to find the combination of players that will help us in the (EuroBasket) Championship. "
On Sunday, Germany will meet Turkey and Greece will go up against Belgium.
Turkey Defeat Belgium
Turkey, who were thrashed by Greece on Friday, bounced back against Belgium 24 hours later and claimed a 66-60 victory.
Two of the youngsters in the Turkey squad, Omer Asik and Enis Kanter, had good games.
Asik had 12 points and nine boards while Kanter scored seven and corralled eight rebounds.
It was Ersan Ilyasova who made the big plays down the stretch, though.
Eddy Casteels' team looked good bets for victory when a Tomas Van Den Spiegel basket gave the Belgians a 58-53 lead midway through the final period.
But after a Semih Erden field goal, Ilyasova reeled off eight straight points.
He buried a three-ball, then struck from inside the arc and then again hit a shot from long range for a 63-58 Turkish advantage with 2:02 remaining.
Orhun Ene's side led the rest of the way.