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Greece coach fires back at critics of usage of Giannis Antetokounmpo

FIBA World Cup, Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Thanasis Skourtopoulos has faced a fair amount of criticism for the way he has utilized Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Many journalists from the U.S. side reacted negatively to Skourtopolous’ decision to rest the Milwaukee Bucks star in the fourth quarter against Team USA, and now he’s firing back.

Greece managed to win their game against the Czech Republic on Monday, 84-77. Unfortunately, though, the Greeks needed a 12-point win to advance. Antetokounmpo played well, scoring 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. However, the Bucks star fouled out with five and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter due to an egregious charge call. As a result, the Greek side failed to obtain the margin of victory they needed.

Following Monday’s win over the Czech Republic, Skourtopoulos stood before the media to address some of the criticism he has faced with regards to his usage of Antetokounmpo at this year’s FIBA World Cup:

“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”, Skourtopoulos said, per Eurohoops.net.

“The Bucks are a well-structured team with Giannis as a centerpiece,” Skourtopoulos added. “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.”

Skourtopoulos also touched on Antetokounmpo’s attitude throughout this year’s tournament. The Greek coach noted that Giannis did not get the respect he deserves from the officials:

“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”, Skourtopoulos said. “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 respect 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.”

Though Greece won’t be advancing to the knockout stage at this year’s World Cup, Antetokounmpo has a lot to look forward to in the coming NBA season. Perhaps this setback will serve as a form of motivation.