There’s never an easy game when the reigning NBA MVP is on the opposite side of the court, but the U.S. men’s basketball team controlled the action against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece in a 69-53 second-round win at the FIBA World Cup on Saturday.
The U.S. held Greece to just 32 percent shooting from the field in Shenzhen, China, and although Antetokounmpo amassed 15 points and 13 rebounds, it wasn’t enough to get past the Americans, now undefeated at 4-0.
Kemba Walker led the U.S. in scoring with 15 points and Donovan Mitchell added 10 in the victory, which saw the U.S. shoot 36 percent from the field and 88 percent from the line.
The two teams stayed more or less together throughout the first quarter, with the U.S. opening up its biggest lead at 19-13 with just 46 seconds left to play. Greece grabbed a rebound and took it to the other end for a score as time wound down and trailed just 19-17 heading into the second quarter.
Greece tied it, 20-20, early in the second but that’s when the U.S. went on a 9-0 run and clamped down on defense. The U.S. held Greece to just eight points and took a 38-25 lead into halftime.
The third quarter saw the U.S. stretch the lead to 54-37 that proved insurmountable for Antetokounmpo and his teammates. They closed within 13 points late in the game after trailing by as many as 21, but it wasn’t enough. Antetokounmpo was on the bench for much of the stretch run.
The U.S. was the top seed in Group E after going 3-0 in the first round, and Greece was the second seed in Group F. The U.S. remained on top in second-round Group K, while Greece is last. Also on Saturday, Czech Republic beat Brazil, 93-71, to move up to the second-place team in the group.
Next on the docket is a tilt against Brazil, the top seed in Group F, 8:30 a.m. ET Monday. Should the U.S. win, it would move on to the quarterfinals and play on Sept. 11. The medal round is scheduled for Sept. 15.
The U.S. is looking to win its third consecutive World Cup title, which would be a first for any team at the event, as well as clinch a berth for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by finishing among the top two teams from the Americas.