Antetokounmpo, Greece strong in opener; Doncic, Slovenia still have chance to qualify for Olympics


Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like a player intent on leading Greece to its first Olympic berth since 2008.

Antetokounmpo had 32 points in 19 minutes, going 11 of 11 from the field, as Greece rolled to a 109-82 win over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday in Group B of the Piraeus, Greece, Olympic qualifying tournament.

Thomas Walkup added 17 points for Greece, which led by as many as 27 and can advance to the semifinal round of the tournament with a victory over Egypt on Thursday.

“Giannis loves to be here. He loves to represent his country,” Greece coach Vassilis Spanoulis said. “He’s very humble. He’s part of the team. For a superstar you don’t find this easy. … He’s about winning.”

The tournament in Greece is one of four that opened Tuesday to settle the final four spots in the men’s basketball field for the Paris Olympics. Other tournaments are ongoing in Latvia, Puerto Rico and Spain.

Group play at all four sites continues through Thursday, with semifinal games Saturday and the title games Sunday.

An appearance in the Olympics is one of the few things Antetokounmpo has yet to accomplish in his basketball career.

On Wednesday, he didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the strained left calf that caused him to sit out of the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff run in April. He got to the rim at will, went 9 of 13 from the free-throw line and knocked down his lone 3-point attempt.

Croatia is advancing in its bid to earn one of the final Olympic berths, but not with the kind of momentum it had hoped.

New Zealand beat Croatia 90-86 in Group A in Piraeus. Corey Webster had 21 points and Shea Ili added 18, including a go-ahead layup in the final minute to help New Zealand rally for the win.

“I think it’s just a gutsy win from our team,” New Zealand captain Reuben Te Rangi said.

Ivica Zubac had 29 points and 16 rebounds, Dario Saric added 19 points and eight rebounds and Mario Hezonja had 16 points for Croatia, which was able to secure a place in the semifinals with the four-point differential. The loss, however, kept NBA star Luka Doncic and Slovenia in contention.

Slovenia can make it out of Group A and into the semifinals if they beat New Zealand by 21 points when the teams meet Thursday. If not, New Zealand will advance.

Croatia won its tournament opener 108-92 over Slovenia on Tuesday.

“It was a tough spot playing after an emotional win over Slovenia,” Saric said of the loss Wednesday. “We were hoping we’d be on a level and push the game in our direction. But today wasn’t the case.”

In Riga, Latvia, Montenegro survived a sluggish start to keep its semifinal hopes alive with a 70-66 win over Cameroon.

Marko Simonovic had 18 points, six rebounds and went 9 of 9 from the free-throw line to lead five Montenegro players in double figures. Nikola Vucevic finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Cameroon needs to upset Brazil when the teams meet Thursday to advance to the semifinals out of Group B. Otherwise, the second spot would go to Montenegro.

Cameroon led 32-29 at the half. But Montenegro opened the third quarter with a 15-2 run to take a 44-34 lead and never trailed again. Montenegro connected on 7 of 9 free throws in the final period and 20 for 24 for the game.

Fabien Quentin Philibert Ateba and Jordan Bayehe each had 14 points apiece to lead Cameroon.

Valdez Edgecombe Jr. had 21 points, Deandre Ayton added 18 points and nine rebounds, and the Bahamas advanced to the knockout round with their win over Poland in Valencia, Spain.

The Bahamas led by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter, knocking down 13 3-pointers and assisting on 24 of its 31 field goals for the game. Buddy Hield finished with 17 points and 10 assists to help his team finish 2-0 in Group B.

Poland and Finland play Thursday to decide who will join the Bahamas from the group in the semifinals.

Justin Brownlee had 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to help the Philippines hold off a late charge and beat Latvia 89-80 in Group A of the Latvia tournament.

Kai Sotto added 18 points and eight rebounds.

Latvia trailed by as many as 26 points and cut what was a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to 10 with 1:21 remaining. But Latvia settled down and was able to close it out.

Rodions Kurucs led Latvia with 18 points.

The Philippines is in the driver’s seat to win the group and advance to the knockout stage when it plays Georgia on Thursday. Latvia beat Georgia 83-55 on Tuesday.

Santiago Aldama had 24 points and Spain beat Angola 89-81 to win Group A and advance to the semifinals of the Liga, Spain, tournament.

Willy Hernangomez added 22 points and 10 rebounds. The winner of Lebanon and Angola on Thursday will join Spain in the knockout round.

Spain carried a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter and Angola never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Jilson Bango led Angola with 15 points and nine rebounds.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games



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