Team USA defeated and eliminated Greece and Giannis Antetokounmpo from the FIBA World Cup in China. The US team was better than the rivals with 69-53. It was a tough match with low efficiency, but Popovich’s boys kept things under control right from the start of the event.
The American team was solid, as they neutralized the Greeks, who didn’t have anyone else against Giannis capable of standing up to the opponent. One thing which needs to be told is a tough and fierce defense of the US side, who was creating all sorts of trouble for the Greeks.
“It was a good test for us, and it helped us get better,” told USA’s head coach.
The decisive moments of the entire clash took place in the second period, when Greece scored just 8 points and totally ruined everything accomplished in the first quarter. Giannis and the rest of the team held closely, trailing only two buckets, 19-17, but demolition in the second and third period 35-19.
Greece head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos spoke about the fact that his team doesn’t have enough players who can handle playing at a high level like the USA.
“It was a tough game. We congratulate the US team. They have too much intensity for 40 minutes. We tried to stop them with zone and matchup defense, but they are just too much.”
The best player in the American team, Kemba Walker stated that his team followed the game plan, played without any oscillations and clinched a new win because of that.
“Greece is a very good team, and we have much respect for those guys. We played well, had a great gameplan, stuck to it, and came out with the win.”
Boston Celtics’ point guard delivered 15 buckets, with 6 assists and had the game-high for the Americans. The only other player who reached a double-digit number of points was Donovan Mitchell who scored 10 points on his 23rd birthday.
Kemba Walker (15 PTS) & Donovan Mitchell (10 PTS) led Team USA to a 69-53 win over Greece!
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 7, 2019
Meanwhile, on the other end of the floor, Giannis posted a double-double but was far away from the expected level. The NBA MVP had 15 points and 13 boards, and even had a nice shooting percentage, 7 of 11, but couldn’t calm down his team and their pace, which is why they lost in the end.
The Greeks didn’t make any iso positions for Giannis and were also disastrous from behind the three-point line hitting just 7 times in 27 shots. Truth to be told, the
US team wasn’t in the mood for firing outside the arc also, shooting 7 for 30.
Besides Giannis, Kostas Sloukas, one of the best point guards in Europe, added 13 points.
With this win, Greece made their life much more complicated. To advance to the next round, they now have to beat the Czech Republic with 12 or more points, while the USA needs to defeat Brazil also.
As for Popovich and his team, they only need to beat Brazil for the first place. If they do and finish at the top of Group K, their opponent in the quarterfinals will be the losing side from France vs. Australia clash.
Whichever rival turns out to be, it will be one hell of a task for Team USA, as both of them play fantastically. France has +80 after four games, while on the other the Boomers already defeated them before the trip to China.
The game against Brazil who lost earlier today versus the Czech Republic will take place on Monday at 8:30 am ET.