Greece to unleash Antetokounmpo on US at World Cup

Greece to unleash Antetokounmpo on US at World Cup
Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo gestures during the Basketball World Cup Group F game against New Zealand. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2019

Greece to unleash Antetokounmpo on US at World Cup

Greece to unleash Antetokounmpo on US at World Cup

NANJING: Greece will unleash snarling Giannis Antetokounmpo on Team USA after the reigning NBA MVP dragged his country into the second round of the Basketball World Cup on Thursday.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward played a starring role in an edgy 103-97 victory over New Zealand to set up a tasty meeting with the holders on Saturday.

The 24-year-old made a sluggish start in China as Greece defeated Montenegro but then lost narrowly to Brazil to make the meeting with the “Tall Blacks” a must-win.

The so-called “Greek Freak” showed that he meant business from the off in Nanjing, nailing a thunderous dunk with 77 seconds on the clock, the determination and drive etched across his face.

He repeated the feat a minute later, growling with menace afterwards.

Antetokounmpo, ably assisted by his older brother Thanasis, finished with a team-best 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Chants of “MVP! MVP!” occasionally rolled around the arena as Antetokounmpo finally stamped his mark on the World Cup.

“Listen, the situation with Giannis is a little bit complicated, for sure he is the superstar of the team, everyone knows what he can do,” Greece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos said.

“From the other side, we need to protect his health so we have to take care about the amount of time he plays. “The next game with the USA is much better for him because he knows the mentality and the way they play.

“Now it’s time for him to increase the time (he plays) and everything in the game.”

Brazil and the Czech Republic are the other teams in the group in the next stage.

Even without their megastars the US swatted aside already eliminated Japan on Thursday, 98-45.

New Zealand’s defeat meant that local rivals Australia became the first team —  other than hosts Japan —  to qualify for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Antetokounmpo was the focus of attention in Nanjing, although he was in danger of being upstaged by Corey Webster, the red-hot Kiwi who plays for the NZ Breakers.

The 30-year-old guard almost single-handedly kept the Kiwis in the hunt with 31 points as they refused to lie down, coming within five points of the Greeks midway through the fourth quarter.

Tempers frayed in the last 30 seconds, amid Kiwi claims that one of their players was punched in the back of the head.

Australia defeated European heavyweights Lithuania 87-82 to top the “Group of Death” but both teams were already into round two, where they meet France and the Dominican Republic. France, touted before the tournament as medal contenders, took top spot in Group G after beating the Dominicans 90-56.


Yokohama send big guns Jeonbuk packing with 4-1 victory

Updated 02 December 2020

Yokohama send big guns Jeonbuk packing with 4-1 victory

Yokohama send big guns Jeonbuk packing with 4-1 victory
  • It’s a fantastic achievement and we are proud of everyone involved — Marinos coach Ange Postecouglou

DOHA: Yokohama Marinos cruised into the knockout phase of the Asian Champions League for the first time in their history on Tuesday, hammering two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 4-1 in their Group H clash.

Yokohama's Thai defender Theerathon Bunmathan thundered in a shot from the edge of the box in the 17th minute to set the tone, before three goals in the second half sent the 2006 and 2016 winners Jeonbuk crashing out of the tournament.

"It's a great performance and a credit to the players, because it's the first time the club has got out of the group stage," said Yokohama coach Ange Postecouglou.

"We started really well and put pressure on them, scored a goal — a good goal from Bunmathan.

"We missed some chances in the first half which always keeps the opposition in the game, but in the second half we were a bit smarter, worked our counterattacks really well and scored three good goals.

"It's a fantastic achievement and we are proud of everyone involved."

Besides being the first team from eastern Asia to win the Champions League when it was launched in its current format in 2003, Jeonbuk are also eight-time K League winners, a South Korean record, which includes four consecutive titles starting in 2017.

But at the Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday, their only bright moment came in the 54th minute when Gustavo fired home from the penalty spot three minutes after Marcos Junior had put Yokohama 2-0 ahead.

Teruhito Nagakawa's 71st minute strike and an own goal by Song—  whose attempted headed clearance found his own net seven minutes from close — confirmed Jeonbuk's exit.

"The team gave what it was possible to do with the contingent that we have," lamented Jeonbuk coach Jose Morais.

"In the first half, strategically, we went in terms of containing the offensive game of Yokohama, which is a big game and a quality game."

"In the second half, the result as it was wasn't enough to take us forward, so we took more risks."

In Group G, Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande and South Korea's Suwon Samsung Bluewings played out a 1-1 draw at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Lim Sang-hyub put Suwon ahead in the 53rd minute but Wei Shihao restored parity in the 72nd for Guangzhou with the help of an assist from Ai Kesen.

The result means the second qualifying spot from the group will be decided on Friday with the Bluewings needing at least a 2-0 victory to join Vissel Kobe of Japan in the round of 16.

Guangzhou coach Fabio Cannavaro was once again at a loss to explain his team's showing.

"I am not happy because the performance of my team in the first half was not so good," said the former Italy international.

"We didn't control the game and we didn't even try to play football. Even in defence we did not play well. I don't want to find excuses."

Suwon's Park Kun-ha lamented the fact that his team didn't make the most of the chances they got.

"We got the first goal and then unfortunately conceded the equaliser. We had many chances at the end but we could not win."