On September 1, 2006, Greece’s national team shocked the United States — and the world — after defeating the overwhelmingly favorited American squad 101-95 in the semifinal of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Saitama, Japan.
Greece would go on to lose to Spain in the final, but its underdog victory against the Americans remains a rare accomplishment in the international basketball realm.
The U.S. team included NBA stars such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, among others. And yet, the Greeks were able to overcome them with cohesive playing.
“We have to learn the international game better,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski told the Associated Press at the time. “We learned a lot today because we played team that plays amazing basketball and plays together.”
At the time, Greece had no NBA players on its roster, which had been together for three years.
“I think we showed everybody that maybe we’re not very good athletes like them, but we know how to play the game,” Greek guard Theodoros Papaloukas told reporters. “We are clever.”
The U.S. men’s national basketball team is the most successful team in international competition, winning medals in all 19 Olympic tournaments it has entered, including 16 golds. Since losing to the Greeks in 2006, the U.S. has only lost one other time — against France in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The Greek Basketball Federation uploaded a highlight reel from the game on its YouTube channel.
The full-length game is also available for viewing via the FIBA YouTube channel.
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