Montenegro hold off a late Greek comeback

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MANILA (Philippines) – Both teams knew they were out of the hunt for the Quarter-Finals, but wanted to finish their Mall of Asia Arena run with a win. Montenegro led from start to finish, remained calm when Greece made their final charge and picked up a 73-69 victory. Montenegro played without Kendrick Perry, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Kostantinos Mitoglou did not dress for Greece.

Thomas Walkup hit a three-pointer to make it a four-point game with three minutes to go, but coach Bosko Radovic knew what he had to do. He gave the ball to Nikola Vucevic, and the big guy went to work inside the arc, pushing the gap back to double digits. Back-to-back three-pointers by Kostas Papanikoloau brought Greece back to 68-64 with 16.8 seconds left to play, but the comeback ended there, as Montenegro knocked down free throws to win the game. It truly has been a remarkable FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 for Nikola Vucevic. He was one of the best performers of the entire event statistically, and he signed off with 19 points and 7 rebounds in just 23 minutes of work.

Montenegro found their way inside the arc, getting a 40-28 edge in points in the paint.                                            Montenegro proved they can play with anybody. They will be happy with the way their World Cup went. A bit more luck could’ve taken them to the Quarter-Finals, but even so, this was their best major event performance ever, and with a population of 600,000, they are the smallest nation to reach the round of 16 in World Cup history.          Greece had their struggles all summer long, and have to be content with reaching the Second Round. This would’ve been a different story if coach Dimitris Itoudis had Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nick Calathes, Kostas Sloukas, Tyler Dorsey and Leonidas Kaselakis available.

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