Giannis Antetokounmpo's first weekend of EuroBasket action was a letdown individually, but the bigger picture for Greece has proven much more promising. After a relatively straight forward opening day win, the Greeks came back to earn a hard-fought 72-70 win over the host Croatians on Sunday, putting them in pole position of Group C with a stretch of three games in three days starting today against Georgia (11 am CT on ESPN3.com/WatchESPN).
Despite the win it was a frustrating Sunday for Giannis, who ended the night with a modest six points (3/6 fg, 0/1 threes), three rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes. He sat out most of the second half after picking up two quick fouls early in the third, denying viewers a more prolonged look at his matchups with Croatian youngsters Dario Saric (4/5 fg, 11 pts, 6 rebs) and Mario Hezonja (3/10 fg, 2/8 threes, 8 pts). Giannis was particularly aggressive with Saric, though he also picked up a couple of cheap fouls in the process. Here's the extent of his offensive highlights -- two baseline cuts for dunks and a gorgeous
Euro gyro-step past Saric at the foul line:
Giannis Antetokounmpo casually dropped a gyro step from the foul line today. No big deal. #EuroBasket2015 #HellasPosted by BrewHoop.com on Sunday, September 6, 2015
The bigger issue not surprisingly relates to Giannis' peripheral role on a veteran Greek team. After upping his usage rate and efficiency substantially during exhibition play, he has reverted back to being little more than an energy guy in Greece's first two games; tellingly, all but one of his baskets in the first two games came off cuts, putbacks or fast break opportunities. He missed all three of his three-point attempts over the weekend after converting better than 40% of his triples during recent exhibitions, prompting some additional shooting practice on Sunday after the win over Croatia (thanks to Vagelis_82 for the video below):
Granted, no one was expecting the Greeks to build their offense around Giannis, but clearly he wants to do more than just watch Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis do all the heavy lifting. It's not the end of the world for Bucks fans either way, but heading into a pivotal third season it'd be a major bonus if he was carrying the confidence of a strong EuroBasket performance into training camp a few weeks from now.