Following its 69-53 loss to Team USA on Saturday, the Greek national basketball team’s chances of winning the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup have decreased significantly.
Greece will need to win against the Czech Republic on Monday by at least an 11-point margin to have a chance at reaching the FIBA World Cup knockout stage.
But earlier on Saturday the Czech squad achieved a 93-71 victory Brazil — the same team which defeated Greece 79-78 on September 3.
In its match against the USA the “Ethniki” improved their defensive performance but their offense was by and large lackluster against a well-prepared American squad.
The game was tightly contested in the first quarter, which ended 19-17 in the USA’s favor. But the Americans took control thereafter ended the first half with a 13-point lead (38-25).
In the second half Greece’s situation only grew worse — except for a few electrifying dunks from 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo — and the “Ethniki” fell behind by 17 points at the end of the third quarter (54-37).
Greece reduced the margin to a reasonable deficit of 16 points before time ran out, but the match ended with unexpected tension when Greek forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo aggressively fouled USA forward Harrison Barnes.
As the teams met for routine handshakes following the game, USA forward/guard Jaylen Brown pointed at Thanasis and exchanged words with his older brother Giannis. Coaches and refs intervened and no major scuffle unfolded.
Brown later told reporters that “It was a bad play, it was all the way down, but we move forward and we focus on Brazil, so our minds are on that.”
“The game was over; probably a frustration play,” Barnes, the player who was fouled, said. “Apologies only go so far. If I don’t get up and something would’ve happened, apologies aren’t going to help us in the next game. Luckily everything is all good.”
Featured image / Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters
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