2019 FIBA World Cup: Tempers flare after Team USA rolls over Greece

Eric HeYahoo Sports Contributor
Team USA beat Greece on Saturday, but the two sides did not leave the court on the best of terms. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)
Team USA beat Greece on Saturday, but the two sides did not leave the court on the best of terms. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

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.

With under two minutes to go and the Americans ahead 66-53, Greece’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo committed a hard foul on Harrison Barnes, who was going for a breakaway dunk.

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After the final buzzer, the two sides had words, according to multiple reports. Marcus Smart confronted Antetokounmpo, and Thanasis’ brother Giannis also got involved.

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

Despite the win, the Americans struggled offensively with only Kemba Walker (15 points) and Donovan Mitchell (10 points) recording double digits.

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:

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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