Greece unbeaten, but looking to sneak up on U.S. in semis

Published September 1, 2006

SAITAMA, Japan - Now that Dirk Nowitzki is gone from the World Championship, the United States is headed for a gold-medal showdown with Spain or Argentina.

Not exactly. It only seems that way.

For days, U.S. players have been asked about a potential matchup with one of those two international powerhouses in the final game of the worlds. Meanwhile, the other unbeaten team, which just happens to be the reigning European champion, has remained largely anonymous.

Greece's players wouldn't mind at all if they stay that way to the Americans. The teams meet in today's first semifinal, followed by Spain and Argentina. All are 7-0.

Impressive victories over China and France still haven't made the Greek players very recognizable to those outside Europe. Other teams have the big names while Greece has no current NBA players.

THURSDAY'S GAMES: France defeated Germany 75-73 and Turkey topped Lithuania 95-84 to reach Saturday's fifth-place game.

WNBA: The Sacramento Monarchs accomplished their goal of grabbing homecourt advantage from the Detroit Shock with a dominating, 91-75 victory in the opening game of the final. But coaches and players for the defending champion Monarchs expect a much different effort from the Shock in Game 2 tonight in Detroit.

"We're a very confident bunch and when we get an attitude, we're even more confident," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "I told them, in the WNBA finals, the coach's job is to help get you there. When you get to the finals, it's a test of wills."

The Monarchs, who won at Connecticut to open last year's final series, set records for points in a game and in a half with their win. And they beat Detroit at its own physical game, getting in the faces of the Shock players on defense and taking the ball straight at its usually solid interior defenders.

But the Shock did have a few bright spots. Cheryl Ford scored a career playoff-high 25 and Katie Smith added 21, living up to her status as the all-time leading scorer in women's pro basketball in her final debut.