SHENZHEN, China — Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo had to be separated from members of Team USA after a controversial foul triggered emotions in the World Cup Saturday night.
With 1:43 left and the U.S. on the way to a 69-53 victory, Harrison Barnes had a free dunk when Thanasis Antetokounmpo hit him from behind and sent Barnes sprawling onto his stomach behind the basket. A common foul was called on the play.
Moments later when the game ended, Team USA forward Jaylen Brown and Giannis Antetokounmpo exchanged words and referees and coaches came to break it up. Brown later pointed at Thanasis Antetokounmpo angrily making his point.
The teams didn’t have the traditional handshake and coach Gregg Popovich gathered his team together on the floor to allow the Greeks to leave so the two teams wouldn’t meet in the tunnel.
“Yeah, I said something to Giannis. Well, Giannis said something to me,” Brown said. “But we’ve got bigger fish to fry. So we move on.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo declined to talk to the media after the game.
The Americans were angered not just by the foul but also because Thanasis Antetokounmpo didn’t initially apologize for the perceived cheap shot, which happened right in front of the U.S. bench.
“The [no apology] escalated it,” Marcus Smart said. “At that moment, you’ve got to take it for what it is. Regardless of whether you feel like it was wrong or right, it was wrong.”
Barnes, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds, was uninjured.
“The game was over; probably a frustration play,” Barnes said. “Apologies only go so far. If I don’t get up and something would’ve happened, apologies aren’t going to help us in the next game. Luckily everything is all good.”