Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
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Team USA vs. Greece takeaways

Team USA vs. Greece takeaways

The USA held on for a 69-53 win Saturday to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals next week, but toward the end of the game, tempers flared.

Though referees ruled it a common foul, members of Team USA seemed upset with both the intent and the lack of an initial apology after the play transpired right in front the US bench. Had they lost, the Greeks were going to the classification round and relegated to no better than a 17th-place finish in the 32 team tournament. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell added 10 points of his own. France led after three quarters 65-54 and withstood a closing charge by Lithuania, which was led by ex-Toronto Raptor Jonas Valanciunas with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Antetokounmpo was expected to be a big threat after playing relatively light minutes in the first stage, and while he scored 15 points with 13 rebounds he was -17 in his 27 minutes on the floor - the worst +/- rating of any Greece player. They conclude their event with a game against the strong Turkey side (losers by a single point to USA) on Monday.

Greece: The outcome came five years to the day after the Greeks were ousted by Serbia in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup.

"Pop called me and told me I just want you sleep a little easier", Harris said, "and he told me we're going to have Harrison (Barnes) guard him".

Kemba Walker (left) of the USA dribbles past Greece's Evangelos Mantzaris during their Basketball World Cup Group K second round game in Shenzhen on Saturday.

"We picked it up defensively in the second half and that's what changed it for us", said Popovich.

During postgame interactions between both team's, Boston's Jaylen Brown (USA) and Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) got into somewhat of a "verbal altercation". But he grew exhausted as the game wore on - and probably exhausted of watching Greece miss shot after shot. He knows the mentality of the way they play.

But before this advancing win, the Kiwis chose to put on a display of national pride, one that is always fun to watch on video. Certainly it was possible that one or two of Greece's players could've had unexpected hot shooting nights but Popovich and his staff had worked the percentages and they told the players exactly who they wanted to funnel the ball toward.

Other than Antetokounmpo, the rest of the Greece team shot just 25 percent.

"Everyone knows Giannis obviously, you play against him in the NBA", Harris said.

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