Greece enters FIBA WC 2nd round after surviving New Zealand

Greece banked on a second-half comeback to beat New Zealand. FIBA
By Mon Anthony L. Valmoria

PASAY CITY--Greece needed a huge second-half stand to beat a pesky New Zealand squad, 83-74, to officially punch their ticket to the second round of the FIBA World Cup Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Hellas trailed 32-43 in the first half but completely turned it around in time in the second half to complete the comeback win.

Ioannis Papapetrou led the charge for Greece with 27 points (8/15 FG) and six rebounds as the Hellas turned an 11-point first-half disadvantage into a 20-point advantage at the end of the game.

Giannoulis Larentzakis added 20 markers of his own while naturalized player Thomas Walkup, who had 10 points and nine assists, joined a group with Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, and Heissler Guillent as players with 7+ assists in their first three FIBA World Cup games. 

With the win, Greece joins Team USA in the top 16 and the next group phase where they will face fellow European teams Lithuania and Montenegro.

On the other hand, Shea Ili's 27 points were not enough to withstand Greece's second-half rally as New Zealand bowed out of contention for the FIBA World Cup title.

The New Zealand loss also means Australia, which sealed its place in the second round in Okinawa, automatically qualifies for the Paris Olympics as the top team from Oceania.

The Tall Blacks will now shift their focus to the classification rounds facing Egypt and Mexico from Group D.

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