Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo gets fired up in Greece win over Dominican Republic

ATHENS, Aug. 2, 2019 -- (Xinhua/LEFTERIS PARTSALIS via Getty Images)
ATHENS, Aug. 2, 2019 -- (Xinhua/LEFTERIS PARTSALIS via Getty Images) /

In a frequently chippy contest on Monday, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo drove Greece to victory against the Dominican Republic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and the Greek national team were back in action on Monday as they continued their preparations for the FIBA World Cup, which gets underway on Saturday, with an 87-75 win.

Already competing on Chinese soil in the Suzhou International Basketball Challenge, Monday’s matchup marked a semi-final clash between Greece and the Dominican Republic in the exhibition event.

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Having said that, to any viewers who happened to stumble across a FIBA stream of the game on YouTube, they may well have been forgiven for thinking this was an actual World Cup game based on the spirit it was played under.

In short, the atmosphere was far from friendly as the Dominican Republic brought a physical edge to proceedings, which the Greeks, and Giannis in particular, frequently bristled at.

Battling for a loose ball with a Dominican opponent near the end of the first quarter, Antetokounmpo understandably took umbrage to the way in which his arm had been hooked and dangerously held as his opponent lost his footing.

Uncharacteristically, Giannis again found himself squaring up to an opponent at the beginning of the third quarter, as teammates had to separate him following another incident in which a Dominican player was holding on to his arm for longer than necessary.

Of course, as many players and teams around the NBA know by now, there isn’t much good that comes out of angering the MVP.

Provided with extra incentive that he generally doesn’t need in the first place, Giannis put together an ultra-efficient performance in modest minutes to almost single-handedly sink a very competent and competitive Dominican Republic squad.

When all was said and done, Giannis poured in 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line, with four rebounds, three blocks and two assists also added for good measure during the 24-year-old’s 22-minute run-out.

That 26-point tally represented a career-high with Greece for Giannis, although that’s a mark he’ll likely have his eye on surpassing again once the World Cup gets underway.

Elsewhere, although he played fewer minutes than in some previous games, Thanasis also played his part in the win with the majority of his playing time arriving in the third quarter. In that spell, Thanasis left his imprint on the game, as he almost always does, with a dunk as well as a nice assist in transition.

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Next up for Greece is a meeting with Venezuela in the Suzhou International Basketball Challenge final on Tuesday, in what will be their final warm-up game before the World Cup. Venezuela beat Turkey in the event’s other semi-final on Sunday as Ersan Ilyasova was rested, although he may well partake in Turkey’s consolation game against the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.