Greece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos was well aware that Milwaukee Bucks prodigy Giannis Antetokounmpo had all the best intentions to help his national team qualify for the upcoming Olympics, though the team fell well short of the goal after an 84-77 win over the Czech Republic.
The Greek national team needed to win by 12 points to qualify into the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but couldn’t muster it. Antetokounmpo was contained and baited into two offensive fouls, which eventually resulted in the Bucks star fouling out after providing 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in the deciding tilt:
“Giannis came to help us. He fights every day on the court. Not only during the games. But of course, he doesn’t get the respect he wants. And I’m talking about the two [offensive] fouls he received today, the third and fifth. You can’t call this kind of fouls on these players,” said Skourtopoulos, according to Aris Barkas of Eurohoopsn.et.
Skourtopoulos wasn’t only irate at the officials’ calls against Antetokounmpo, but against point guard Nick Calathes as well:
“I can use a better example: Nick Calathes plays 37 minutes. He has the ball in his hands all the time. He wins one foul. If someone can explain this? The guy drives all the time. They push him two times when he makes the layup, no one reacts. About Giannis… it’s the same. We can make a video with more than 25 clips to see how when they trap him they use four and five hedges on him all the time. If they can make the five hedge outs on the ball, I’m with them.”
Greece is even filing a protest against the officials after this loss, asking for them to be banned.
Every team in this competition, including Team USA during a 69-53 win on Saturday, made Antetokounmpo its main target, hoping to fluster him and get the ball out of his hands.
Greece’s lack of depth eventually led to an early elimination in this tournament, despite boasting the NBA’s reigning MVP on its roster.