Greece are calling for the officials who oversaw their final game at the Basketball World Cup to be banned after NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team exited the tournament amid rancour on Monday.
Greece’s coach said that star man Antetokounmpo had been the victim of a lack of “respect” after being fouled out in the 84-77 victory over the Czech Republic.
The Milwaukee Bucks standout picked up a questionable, fifth foul midway through the fourth quarter and even though Greece won, it was not by the margin of 12 or more points that they needed.
A team spokesman confirmed to AFP that the Greeks were writing to governing body FIBA seeking a ban for the three referees in charge.
“Also (a ban) for those who nominate the referees and also watch the video and announce the results,” the spokesman said in a text message.
Greece, chasing the big win they needed to reach the quarter-finals, were up by 10 points with just over eight minutes left.
They reached the magic 12-point lead, only for the Czechs to immediately hit back to narrow the deficit once more, then came the loss of the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo.
He was seen remonstrating with the officials after Greece’s fate was sealed, but overall, the reigning MVP was not on the top of his game at the World Cup.
Antetokounmpo had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists before his afternoon — and Greece’s tournament — came to an early end.
“He came every day to fight on the court, of course he did not get the respect he wants and I mean about the two fouls he received today, the third and the fifth,” said Greece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos.
“You cannot call these kinds of fouls on this kind of player.
“That’s finished because I don’t like to talk about the referees too much.”
It is not the first controversy involving referees at the World Cup in China.
FIBA on Sunday removed from the competition blundering match officials who made an error in the dying seconds of Lithuania’s tournament-ending loss to France, but the result was allowed to stand.
The crucial mistake occurred with the French leading just 76-75 at the time.
The Czechs now need a USA victory over Brazil later Monday to reach the quarter-finals.
Skourtopoulos made the surprising admission that he and his coaching team had failed to get the most out of the so-called “Greek Freak”.
“It’s the first time we had him with us with this status of MVP, in these 25 days we tried to do the best we can… I can say maybe we did not make the correct options.
“We worked very hard to support him.”
He added: “I am sorry because we disappointed a lot of fans in Greece and fans who supported us here.”