U.S. hold off Giannis' Greece to reach quarter-finals

U.S. hold off Giannis' Greece to reach quarter-finals”

Today's USA-Greece FIBA World Cup game was relatively uneventful until the final minutes, when a hard foul by Greece's Thanasis Antetokounmpo drew the ire of the American squad.

Greece's coach said that its star man had been the victim of a lack of "respect" from referees after being fouled out in an 84-77 victory over the Czech Republic.

A team spokesman confirmed that the Greeks were writing to governing body FIBA seeking a ban for the three referees in charge.

Despite Greece cutting the United States' lead to as few as 11 points with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Greece's coach Thanasis Skourtopoulo said he consulted with Antetokounmpo to rest him for Monday's game against the Czech Republic.

He said in the weeks leading up to the tournament that he would trade the MVP award for the World Cup crown.

It nearly worked: Nick Calathes' deep 3-pointer with 7 seconds left pushed Greece's lead to nine, but Jaromir Bohacik - who was 5 for 6 from the line in the final 20 seconds - made a pair with 4.6 seconds remaining, and that was the end for Greece.

Against the USA the Greek national team showed an improved defense but came up against a well-prepared side that at times left the Greek players without any attacking options.

He spun his way to a layup on the first possession, made a 3-pointer on Greece's second possession and got fouled on a baseline drive on the next trip down the floor.

"That's finished because I don't like to talk about the referees too much". From location to opposition to the rules, it's as big of an opponent as anything at the World Cup in China. In Tatum's absence, it will take a group effort which is exactly how Team USA beat Greece in this contest.

Added coach Ronen Ginzburg: "It's an incredible time for us, for Czech Republic basketball".

Wednesday's clash with France, beaten 98-100 by Australia, will be a tougher proposition. Had the Greeks lost, they would have been out of the World Cup and in a precarious position in trying to qualify for next summer's Olympics. "Obviously we've seen him play and he's a great player", Popovich said.

Jonas Valanciunas led Lithuania with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Brazil saw its coach Aco Petrovic ejected in the first half and it refused to attend the post-match press conference.

Australia joins Japan as the two qualified teams for Tokyo.

Australia will be the strong favorite when it plays the Czech Republic in the quarters, also on Wednesday.

That means Greece needs to last longer than Serbia, Spain and France, who are all undefeated so far, otherwise its road to Tokyo is about to get a lot more bumpy. "The game was pretty much over, and you had no way of blocking the shot".

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