Team USA coasted to a 69-53 win over Greece on Saturday to improve to 4-0 in group play of the FIBA World Cup, but there was a mini dust-up toward the end of the game.
Harrison Barnes with the monster dunk on Thanasis Antetokoumpo. pic.twitter.com/AbwJQnek17
— Basketball Highlights (@BasketballHigh8) September 7, 2019
After the final buzzer, the two sides had words, according to multiple reports. Marcus Smart confronted Antetokounmpo, and Thanasis’ brother Giannis also got involved.
Marcus Smart appeared to have words with Thanasis Antetokounmpo after the buzzer, after Thanasis fouled Harrison Barnes on a dunk attempt late in the game. Giannis got in the middle. Jaylen Brown had words with Giannis. Khris Middleton moved Giannis out of it.
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) September 7, 2019
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that the two sides had to be separated and that the teams did not shake hands, with Team USA staying on the floor while Greece went into the tunnel.
Team USA limits Giannis
They did hold the Greeks to 32 percent shooting and clamped down on Giannis, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds but his plus-minus of -17 was a tournament-low for him. Smart excelled defensively on the reigning NBA MVP:
Just watch the defensive effort from Marcus Smart on this play. Doesn't let Giannis get post position to start, fights to front to take away a catch (man did 4 spin moves) and still gets a contest on the shooter at the end of the possession. pic.twitter.com/gIHMfIakHS
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) September 7, 2019
Giannis also did not play at all in the fourth quarter, a curious decision by Greece’s coaching staff that was either waiving the white flag or keeping their star player healthy. The U.S. led 54-37 after three quarters.
This is a much more refreshing win for Team USA after it barely squeaked by Turkey with a one-point win on Tuesday. The Americans are still not where they need to be offensively and are by no means runaway favorites in the tournament due to the number of players who pulled out of the team, but this performance against a Giannis-led Greek squad has to be more of what head coach Gregg Popovich was expecting.
The win clinches a spot for the U.S. in the quarterfinals, which begin on Tuesday.
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