Greece beats Croatia at buzzer; Spain sinks Russia
MADRID, Spain -- Vassilis Spanoulis hit a 3-pointer in the final second to give Greece an 81-78 victory over Croatia on Sunday and move it closer to a quarterfinal berth in the European Basketball Championship.
Jose Calderon scored 17 points to lift Spain past Russia 81-69 and into the quarterfinals with the 14-time champion, and Joao Gomes had 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Portugal beat Israel 94-85.
Spain and Russia top Group E with seven points, while Greece and Croatia have six each. Israel and Portugal have five apiece.
Defending champion Greece next plays Portugal, with the winner advancing to the last eight.
Croatia can also guarantee its place in the knockout stage with a win over Russia, while Israel will know before its match against world champion Spain if it's still in the running.
Marko Popovic made two free throws with 7 seconds left to pull Croatia into a 78-78 tie with Greece, but Spanoulis dribbled the length of the court and hit a wide open shot from way behind the 3-point line.
"We didn't lose our concentration when we were down 13 points," Greece coach Panagiotis Giannakis said. "I think this win in this type of game gave my team back ... our desire to do something more."
Dimitrios Diamantidis, who hit several 3-pointers in the final minutes, led Greece with 23 points, while Mario Kasun led Croatia with 15.
Playing with urgency from the outset, Greece imposed itself in the post as forward Lazaros Papadopoulos, averaging 3.5 points, had 10 in the first 6½ minutes and finished with 22.
Victor Khryapa converted three consecutive 3-pointer to help Russia to a 23-20 lead by the end of the first quarter, but Juan Carlos Navarro responded with eight of his 15 in the second period to spark a 10-0 run and put Spain ahead 40-35 by halftime.
Calderon had Spain's first seven points to start the second half and with help from Jorge Garbajosa -- who finished with 11, the Spanish hiked their lead to 66-51 early in the fourth quarter. Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 21 points.
Francisco Jordao scored 20 points for Portugal, which won its third straight over Israel.
"This victory is the confirmation of the work we have done in our preparation and of the attitude we have, which is to go out and win every game," forward Joao Santos said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
With two Olympic qualifying bids up for grabs at the FIBA Europe competition, many NBA stars excelled for their home countries in Madrid. Russia was the surprise winner, with Lithuania collecting the other Olympic berth with its third-place finish. (Runner-up Spain already qualified.)
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