A year after a disappointing round of 16 exit at the FIBA World Cup, Greece's dream of EuroBasket redemption is alive and well.
After an inauspicious start, both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece found their legs against Belgium on Saturday, blowing things open in the third quarter and eventually cruising to a 75-54 round of 16 win (box score). After missing a short hook and two threes in the first six minutes, Giannis confidently buried a corner triple to set the tone for the rest of his day. Though he was once again a peripheral piece of the Greek offense, he made his next three shots and finished with a second straight double-double (10 points, 4/7 fg, 2/4 threes, 10 rebounds in 26 minutes) to help Greece set up a quarterfinal date with the winner of Saturday's Spain-Poland game.
Saturday's effort upped Giannis' tournament shooting to 50% overall -- 60% inside the arc and 35.3% from deep. After going 0/3 from three in Greece's first two games, he's hit 6/14 (42.9%) from deep over the last three, and he's also cracked double-digit rebounds in each of the last two games after collecting three or fewer boards in Greece's first four games.
Granted, his overall averages of 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22 minutes per game won't wow anyone, but context is of course everything. He's effectively just Greece's energy guy at this point, waiting his turn on a veteran Greek roster that doesn't have any other player under the age of 25. You'd certainly expect that he'll always be best suited to the more open and up-tempo style of the NBA, but it figures to be only a matter of time before he assumes a much more prominent role for Greece.