Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo helps Greece to win over Montenegro

(Photo by WANG Zhao / AFP/ Getty Images)
(Photo by WANG Zhao / AFP/ Getty Images) /

Greece laid down a marker with a strong team win in their World Cup opener against Montenegro, with the Milwaukee Bucks duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo both playing their part.

Expectations were high for Greece as they got their 2019 FIBA World Cup campaign underway on Sunday morning (U.S. time) in China, and a routine win over Montenegro effectively acted as a dream start for Thanasis Skourtopoulos’ team.

Producing an outstanding, high-intensity defensive effort from the opening tip, and coming up with more than enough offense to complement it, there were few, if any, moments of discomfort as the Greeks cruised to an 85-60 win.

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Playing in front of an excited crowd in Nanjing, there was a clear sense of the kind of attention Greece can expect to get throughout the tournament.

With Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s very first touches, an audible rumble of anticipation seemed to make its way around the arena. The Chinese fans were very excited at the chance to see the NBA MVP, and were ready for a highlight every time the ball landed in his hands.

On the whole, a combination of foul trouble and a comfortable margin of victory that made it more prudent to let him rest, meant Giannis didn’t necessarily put on the kind of show those fans would have expected. Still, he was very impressive when he was on the court.

In just 16 minutes of action, the 24-year-old produced 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field, seven rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block, along with a +17 in the box score.

That stat-line included Antetokounmpo’s usual variety of thrilling plays, ranging from a couple of beautiful transition dunks, including one in the second quarter which came off of a steal he forced on defense.

Giannis also broke out a nice short right hook shot in the post, though, while he made sure to remind Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic of his NBA dominance by meeting him at the rim for an emphatic rejection.

Ultimately, Thanasis Antetokounmpo almost matched his brother’s playing time and scoring tally, though, as he logged plenty of minutes of his own.

Encouragingly for both Bucks and Greece fans, Thanasis’ 12 minute burst included a very smooth corner three-point make. More in line with his usual tendencies, Thanasis did also come up with a highlight block, a great drive and reverse layup finish, and a selection of clean up points under the basket.

When all was said and done, the elder Antetokounmpo brother finished with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field, one rebound, one assist and one block, and a +3 in the box score.

Outside of the Bucks’ representatives, there was no shortage of impressive performances for Greece.

Georgios Printezis missed just a single shot off the bench on his way to 16 points. Former Kings lottery pick Georgios Papagiannis was also immensely impressive as he racked up highlights on his way to 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. While in spite of his advancing years, Ioannis Bourousis remained something of a talisman at center as he chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova leads Turkey to victory against Japan. dark

Next up for Greece will be a meeting with Brazil on Tuesday at 7am Central Time, with the winner likely to finish the round as the group’s winner.