Eurobasket 2005 final

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Greece is the EuroBasket 2005 winner! Greece has won its second gold medal in an European Championship by beating Germany 78-62 in the title game in Belgrade on a Sunday night (September 25, 2005). It was an emotional night for all Greek fans around the continent, as Greece had previously won the EuroBasket in 1987, led by Nikos Galis and Panagiotis Giannakis, who becomes the first person to win European championship both as a player and coach.

Theodoros Papaloukas was the man of the game, leading Greece with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting, 6 assists and 3 steals. Nikos Zisis had 13 points while Michalis Kakiouzis added 11 for the European champs. Nowitzki led Germany with 23 points and 9 rebounds while Femerling had 11. Defenses were very physical in the early going, with Kostas Tsartsaris of Panathinaikos guarding Nowitzki while Germany switched from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man defense, making Greece go scoreless for 3 minutes.

Free throws by Marko Pesic got Germany started, but Nikos Hatzivrettas of Panathinaikos nailed a three from the top of the key to give Greece its first lead, 2-3. Nowitzki fired in a five-meter jumper, as both teams struggled to score. Greece found a go-to guy in Tsartsaris, who shined with consecutive dunks in a 6-0 run in which Diamantidis had 2 steals, an assist and a put-back basket, forcing a German timeout at 10-4.

Schultze scored in the paint for Germany, but Zizis immdiately matched that with a short jumper and Papaloukas added another basket to give Greece a 14-7 margin. Dikoudis nailed a five-meter jumper, and even when Schultze answered from downtown, Kakiouzis fired in another three-pointer to keep Greece ahead, 19-12, after 10 minutes. Germany had 9 turnovers in the opening period. Greene tried to get Germany going with a put-back dunk and Robert Garrett slashed for a layup to bring his team within 19-16. Papaloukas came to the rescue for Greece with a driving layup and Kakiouzis added a corner three which gave Greece its biggest lead that far, 24-16. Kakiouzis, a man made for big games, added a put-back basket while a six-meter jumper by Papaloukas forced another German timeout at 28-18.

Femerling stepped up with a couple of layups and Nowitzki added a fallaway jumper to make it a seven-point game, 31-24 after 17 minutes. Greece did not panic, however, as Kakiouzis, Zisis and Papaloukas scored easy baskets in as many offenses to extend the Greek margin to 37-26. Femerling appeared again with a basket-plus-foul and Nowitzki nailed an off-balance three at the buzzer for a 39-32 German deficit at halftime.

Greece started the second half at full speed, as Hatzivrettas nailed a three-pointer and Papaloukas scored twice from downtown to restore a double-digit lead for their team, 48-36. Germany could not find the way to the basket, while all Greek fans in the standings roared once Papaloukas took over with a floating layup for a 14-point lead, 50-36. Nowitzki tried to keep his team alive with a jumper, but Greece carried on with its defensive exhibition.

Germany tried to organize its offense with a timeout, trying to get Nowitzki even more involved while powering the offensive board for second-chance points. Nowitzki scored outside and Femerling followed another close basket with free throws to get Germany closer at 52-44 after 26 minutes. Dikoudis gave Greece some fresh air with 4 quick points on a second-chance basket and free throws, as Germany entered the foul bonus. Greece made the most out of it, as Zisis and Hatzivrettas scored twice from the foul line in a 9-0 run which Papaloukas capped with a critical triple which gave his team a 17-point lead, 61-44. Germany struggled to score for almost 3 minutes until Nowitzki made free throws, which Mithat Demirel of Besitkas followed with a left-handed driving layup, but free throws by Dikoudis and Kakiouzis allowed Greece to keep a 64-48 margin after 30 minutes. Germany needed a quick comeback to keep its chances alive, and Nowitzki tried to ignit it with free throws.

Germany switched to a more aggressive zone press, but its shooters were off-target early in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Greece tried to play with longer possessions to seal the outcome as soon as possible. Tsartsaris scored in the paint and Papaloukas added a driving layup to make it a 18-point game, 68-50, with 7 minutes to go. Germany ran out of time, while all the Greek fans in the stands and millions more back home started celebrate a historical win that puts their national team, after 18 years, back atop European basketball!

"You always dream of gold, but you don't ever say it," Papaloukas said after. "Now, we have it here, around our necks. We are a team. We have team spirit. If someone is playing good, everyone is happy. If you make a mistake, some dumb play like when I threw the ball off the board in the semifinals, everybody is still with you. If a team plays well, the players are always together, but when there are mistakes and the guys support that person, that makes it a real team. We were a very good team, playing very good defense, but I also think we were a smart team. We absolutely controlled the game. We knew how to play and we did what we could do. In the first 10 minutes, we saw what we wanted to do and we made it happen," Papaloukas added.

"It's unbelievable," Giannakis said. "I had the chance to win it as a player and these guys gave me the opportunity to win as a coach, the only one in history to do both. And it's thanks to these kids. We made a big step for Greek basketball and I think we have a great future."