Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece lost to Brazil in group play at the FIBA World Cup today. Giannis had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. Anderson Verajao had 22 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists for Brazil. After the game, Brazil’s coach, Aleksandar Petrovic (Dražen Petrović’s older brother), explained that shutting down Giannis was no big deal. In fact, he’d known how to do it for months. Via EuroHoops:
“We showed that we have several players who can stop Antetokounmpo. But yesterday I was more occupied with Sloukas and Printezis, and that’s what happened today. When I was preparing this game, a lot of people talked and joked about how to stop Antetokounmpo. I had for six months in my head, since the semifinals between Toronto and Milwaukee, how to stop Antetokounmpo. The problem tonight for us was Sloukas and Printezis.”
Right. The only guy who figured out how to stop Giannis was Brazil’s national coach and it took him six months of watching game tape from the NBA Playoffs. And once he did that, he was actually more worried about two guys who never averaged 15 points a game in the EuroLeague.
“Why this sport is wonderful? On the other side, you have a guy who won the MVP, he’s 23 years old and who stops him tonight?! The guy who is 40 years old and kicks his ass on the court! That’s basketball!”
That guy was Alex Garcia, a 39-year-old who spent some time with the Spurs and Hornets in the early 2000’s. Did he really kick Giannis’ ass? Probably not. I’m sure he made him work hard, but just having a bad game outside of any other forces also falls under, “that’s basketball!” Whatever happened, Giannis was so invisible that his name wasn’t mentioned once in a nearly four-minute highlight video of the game. I mean, he isn’t even shown touching the ball.
Greece’s next game is Thursday against New Zealand. The winner advances to the next round of group play. Let’s see if New Zealand’s coaches are as smart as Petrovic or if Giannis actually shows up.