By Dionysis Aravantinos / @AravantinosDA
SHENZHEN – Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greece did not manage to qualify to the FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter-finals in Shanghai, despite defeating the Czech Republic by seven points, 77-84.
The Greek team needed to win by 12+ points to qualify, and so on Tuesday, Thanasis Skourtopoulos’ team will be heading back home.
Over the last few days, Skourtopoulos has faced heavy criticism globally for the way he utilizes Giannis under the FIBA rules. Many journalists, especially from the USA, reacted negatively to Skourtopoulos resting the Greek Freak in the fourth quarter against Team USA, and on Monday after failing to qualify to the quarter-finals, he addressed the criticism he’s faced.
“If we had the opportunity to set up a team from the start for Giannis… I constantly read comments online saying why the Greek national team doesn’t play like the Bucks, and I don’t know how to react. We’re not the Bucks; it’s that simple. We don’t need to say anything else”, he said.
Skourtopoulos, 54 also talked about the differences there are between the way Milwaukee uses him and the situation in the national team: “The Bucks are a well-structured team with Giannis as a centerpiece. We are a team that also has Antetokounmpo as a centerpiece, but with some players around him who have their own personality, and value and they are also a big part of the team.”
In addition, Greece’s head coach also talked about Giannis’ attitude and journey these past 40 days with the national team. “Giannis came in with a great attitude, but somewhere along the way, I think he was stressed out because he wanted to prove everyone right in Greece and here in China”, he says. “Everywhere he went, fans were following him. It was the first time we had Giannis on our team and tried very hard to use him in the best possible way. However, he didn’t get the respected he deserved, from the organizers, but also the referees. We watch the games 2-3 times and the “beating” he gets with hands all over him, is unbelievable. This is why he doesn’t shoot many free-throws.”
Skourtopoulos talked about the same matter during the press conference.
Photo credit: FIBA.Basketball