Greece charged out of the gate in Monday's final preliminary victory against the United States, with Dimitri Skoumpakis scoring less than a minute into the match. The Europeans' aggressive play clearly illustrated why the team had yet to lose at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with a record of three wins and one draw.
Following their clash with the United States, make that four wins. Greece blew the USA out of the water, clinching the top Group A spot in the process.
Though the United States would remain fourth in Group A no matter what -- having already secured a spot in the quarterfinals -- the team suffered an especially tough loss ahead of their first knockout round match.
After a first quarter blowout, the Americans allowed Greece to score twice more during the second quarter. U.S. players Benjamin Stevenson and Alex Obert each put up a point in an attempt to stop the bleeding, the score 6-3 at the halfway point. As the third quarter began, the United States bolstered their defense and crawled back up the scoreboard with Max Irving's goal at 5:55.
Greece's response: three goals in three minutes.
The final quarter further demonstrated the Americans' lacking defense, as Greece flexed their muscles with four more goals. The United States was simply lost at sea.
Next up for the U.S.: a quarterfinal match against Spain. In other quarterfinal matchups, group winner Greece faces Montenegro, Hungary faces Croatia, and Italy faces Serbia.
- Dan Levinsohn
Italy rally keeps Hungary at bay
Italy scored two fourth-quarter goals in a defense struggle with Hungary to forge a 5-5 tie and clinch second place ahead of the traditional power in group play.
Hungary, which came into the game at 3-1-1, needed a win to overhaul Italy (3-0-2) in the standings. Italy tied group winner Greece earlier in the tournament.
Pietro Figlioli cut the Hungarian lead to 5-4 early in the fourth quarter, and Francesco Di Fulvio scored the tying goal with 1:13 left.
Serbia routs Montenegro to avoid facing top seed
Serbia scored six goals in the first quarter and had an easy time in a 13-6 win over Montenegro, which dropped to fourth place in the group.
Filip Filipovic, a three-time Olympic medalist, had a hat trick in an otherwise balanced attack for Serbia, which finished group play at 3-2, level with Croatia in a group dominated by Balkan nations.
Spain finishes group play at 5-0
Group winner Spain beat group runner-up Croatia 8-4, remaining unbeaten with a goal difference of +30 in five games.
After close games against Serbia (13-12) and Montenegro (8-6), Spain wasn't threatened the rest of the way in its quest to get to the podium for the first time this century.
Japan gets consolation win
South Africa at least kept it close for a half this time, trailing 5-4 after the first quarter and 12-8 after the second, but Japan outscored the African representative 12-1 in the second half for a 24-9 win.
Japan picked up its first and only win after playing a two-goal game with the United States and losing by just one to group winner Greece.
South Africa gave up at least 20 goals in every game and finished with a goal difference of -96.
Australia finishes with scoring flurry
Australia took a 7-1 halftime lead in a matchup of the bottom two teams in their group on the way to a 15-7 win over winless Kazakhstan.
Rhys Howden had five of the Aussie goals, but the team's disappointing run came to an end after losing a tiebreaker to Montenegro.