Turning Point: In his best sequence in the entire game, Yannis Bourousis put the Greeks ahead 66-64 with two free throws 4:09 from the final buzzer, returned to the defensive end, blocked a Sergio Rodriguez lay-up and on the next Greek possession scored from down low to make 68-64 with 3:31 on the clock.
Game Hero: Greece had to come from behind in the second and fourth quarters and Vassilis Spanoulis was the player to spearhead the charge both times. His impact during those stretches fully made up for his discreet showing in the first and third frames, as he finished the game with a team-high 20 points and added three assists and four rebounds. Stats Don't Lie: Spain shot much better from the floor, especially during the first three quarters and were almost flawless from the free throw line, but Greece scored a crucial 19 points off the Iberian side's 17 turnovers. The Greeks also got much more help in scoring from their bench players.
Vassilis Spanoulis was the hero for Greece with 20 points
Greece have stayed alive and kicking in the battle for a spot in the quarter-finals by clinching a hard-fought 79-75 victory over reigning European champions Spain in their first game in Group F.
Vassilis Kavvadas, who had seen eight minutes of action in the entire First Round, received his first start with Greece on Thursday at Stozice Arena.
The mission of the robust center was part of the war plan the Greeks had drawn against Spain: make Marc Gasol uncomfortable, limit his action as much as possible.
It produced mixed results for the Hellenic side in the opening quarter.
The Spanish star walked off the court after just eight minutes of playing time, having already picked up three fouls and committed three turnovers, but Rudy Fernandez had found space to score seven points and help Spain lead 26-16 at the first buzzer.
"After a loss like the one against Finland our legs perhaps were heavy, or maybe mentally we were not as convinced, it took us some time to start realising we can beat Spain," Greece power forward Kostas Kaimakoglou said afterwards.
With Gasol on the bench, a discreet, up until that point Spanoulis sprung into action in the second frame.
The Greek guard sunk a jumper from the top of the key to tie the scores at 34 with 2:39 left in the period and then sunk a triple 38 seconds later to give Greece their first lead in the game, 37-34.
Marc Gasol gave Spain the momentum in the third quarter but they could not maintain it
Greece took a 41-38 advantage but were not the only ones to return to the court for the second half, as Marc Gasol came out determined to make an impact and scored 11 points within 125 seconds, including a triple, at the end of the third quarter.
He handed Spain a 57-50 lead with an imperial dunk and on the first possession in the final stanza, Fernandez sunk a triple to give Spain their biggest lead since the first quarter, 60-52.
But the Greeks had enough left in the tank for another comeback and Spanoulis first hit a triple and then drove to the Spanish basket to finish at the rim and re-instate the Greeks in the driver's seat, 62-61, with 5:52 left on the clock.
"We came out today to play hard, give everything and play with high energy right from the start, and that was the key," Kaimakoglou said.
Bourousis' sequence gave the Greeks some breathing space 3:31 from time and after Gasol brought Spain back within four points from the foul line, Michael Bramos drilled a big three, 59 seconds from the final buzzer, to give Greece a 75-68 lead and sentence the result.
"We made a big win today, we saw ourselves on video following the loss against Finland and thought that we are not that team," Kaimakoglou added.
"We are back in the qualification game but this is still just only one win and we have to play the same way in the next two games."