A Brazilian team of Guys—led by Anderson Varejão and Leandro Barbosa—took down the reigning MVP in the group stage of the FIBA World Cup in China on Tuesday, and winning head coach Aleksandar Petrovic will never let the Greek Freak hear the end of it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored only 13 points and fouled out late in Greece’s 79-78 loss, and a mere glance at the box score reveals just how sad and embarrassing that performance is. Varejão, the NBA All-Defensive Second Team big man in 2010, led all scorers with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Giannis, meanwhile couldn’t even earn top marks on his own team. Greece’s leading scorer was European lifer Georgios Printezis, who got 20 points, while Kostas Sloukas and his 11 assists also overshadowed his country’s most famous player.
An elated Petrovic spent his time after the game basking in the glow of his side’s win, and he had the facts to back him up. It was two relative unknowns who gave Greece their best shot at victory, while Petrovic’s preparation for the one of the NBA’s most fearsome players proved irrelevant:
“When I was preparing this game, a lot of people talked and joked about how to stop Antetokounmpo. I had for six months in my head, since the semifinals between Toronto and Milwaukee, how to stop Antetokounmpo. The problem tonight for us was Sloukas and Printezis.”
How did Brazil contain Giannis? Well, the way any team worth its salt would—with 39-year-old Alex Garcia, who scored 47 points in his NBA career. In his postgame burial of Giannis, Petrovic reserved a special kind of glee for Garcia’s defense:
“Why this sport is wonderful? On the other side, you have a guy who won the MVP, he’s 23 years old and who stops him tonight?! The guy who is 40 years old and kicks his ass on the court! That’s basketball!” said the brother of the late, great Drazen Petrovic while slapping his hand on the table euphorically.
When Giannis’s contract is up in 2021, the Bucks don’t have to worry. I’m sure Georgios Printezis, Kostas Sloukas, and Anderson Varejão would all be happy to step in and replace him at a much cheaper rate.