NBA MVP Antetokounmpo, Greece Open World Cup with Easy Win

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece drives to the hoop during their their group stage match against Greece at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Nanjing in eastern China's Jiangsu province, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (Han Yuqing/Xinhua via AP)

SHANGHAI (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo stole the ball at one end, dribbled behind his back around midcourt, kept going and took off from just below the foul line before unleashing a dunk.

The NBA MVP sent a message on Sunday. So did his team.

Turning it into a rout by halftime, Greece opened its World Cup schedule with an easy 85-60 victory over Montenegro in Group F at Nanjing. Antetokounmpo had 10 points and eight rebounds in only 16 minutes.

It was 42-16 at the half. Big minutes were not required.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Georgios Papagiannis of Greece, right, celebrates as Nikola Ivanovic of Montenegro looks on during their their group stage match at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Nanjing in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (Han Yuqing/Xinhua via AP)

“It was a great win today,” Antetokounmpo said. “A lot of guys played well. I think coach did a great job managing minutes. Everybody got some minutes. Everybody got to play.”

Georgios Printezis led Greece with 16 points and Georgios Papagiannis added 15 on 7 for 8 shooting.

“When you play for the national team, you don’t only play for yourself,” Antetokounmpo said. “You represent every single Greek person.”

Nikola Vucevic led Montenegro with 12 points.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Giannis Antetokounmpo, second from left, and Georgios Papagiannis, right, of Greece battle for the ball against Marko Todorovic, center, of Montenegro during their their group stage match at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Nanjing in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (Han Yuqing/Xinhua via AP)

AUSTRALIA 108, CANADA 92

At Dongguan, Canada came to the World Cup expecting that its group would be extremely challenging, and Australia proved that to be correct.

Matthew Dellavedova scored 24 points, and the Australians opened the fourth quarter on a huge run to pull away and beat Canada 108-92 in a Group H opener.

“Good to start the tournament with a win,” Australia’s Chris Goulding said. “Our first half, we showed we can do some really good stuff.”

Goulding scored 16, Patty Mills had 15 and Joe Ingles finished with 13 points and nine assists for Australia. Andrew Bogut added 12 points on 6 for 7 shooting, plus grabbed nine rebounds, and Aron Baynes scored 10 for the winners.

Khem Birch scored 18 for Canada, and Cory Joseph had 16.

Australia led 52-40 at the half, but Canada roared out of the gate in the third quarter on a 25-7 run over the first 5:20. That put Canada up 65-59, and seemed to put the Australians on the ropes.

The Boomers rallied.

Canada’s lead was 77-76 going into the fourth quarter, but the last 10 minutes were all Australia. An 8-0 run by the Aussies put them on top to stay, and they wound up outscoring the Canadians 28-6 over the first 8:44 of the final period.

The loss put Canada in a likely must-win scenario against Lithuania on Tuesday.

“I thought the start wasn’t very good for us, I didn’t think the end was very good and I think the middle was excellent,” Canada coach Nick Nurse said. “We didn’t seem to be catching many breaks or the ball bouncing our way early, but we regrouped and after halftime we came out and put a heck of a third quarter together.”

It was the sixth straight World Cup loss for Canada; the Canadians went 0-5 at the world championships in 2010 and didn’t qualify for the tournament in 2014.

U.S. 88, CZECH REPUBLIC 67

At Shanghai, Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points, Harrison Barnes added 14 and the U.S. opened its quest for a third consecutive FIBA World Cup gold medal.

Tomas Satoransky led the Czechs with 17 points.

FRANCE 78, GERMANY 74

At Shenzhen, France opened the game on a 21-4 run and held on to beat Germany behind 26 points from Evan Fournier.

Johannes Voigtmann scored 25 points and Dennis Schroder had 23 for Germany in the Group G opener.

LITHUANIA 101, SENEGAL 47

At Dongguan, Lithuania had seven players in double figures and held Senegal to 29% shooting in a Group H opener. Domantas Sabonis, Jonas Valanciunas and Mantas Kalnietis each had 13 points to lead the winners.

TURKEY 86, JAPAN 67

At Shanghai, Turkey got its Group E schedule started with a wire-to-wire win over Japan behind 17 points apiece from Ersan Ilyasova and Melih Mahmutoglu. Rui Hachimura scored 15 points for Japan, as did Nick Fazekas.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 80, JORDAN 76

At Shenzhen, Victor Liz scored 15 points to lead the Dominican Republic to a Group G win. Ahmad Al Dwairi had 34 points and 10 rebounds for Jordan, which got 24 points from Dar Tucker. Jordan was down by 16 points late in the third quarter, then pulled into a 64-64 tie early in the fourth after a 22-6 run. Jordan took a pair of one-point leads late, but the Dominicans finished on a 7-2 run.

BRAZIL 102, NEW ZEALAND 94

At Nanjing, Brazil outscored New Zealand 28-12 in the third quarter and held on to win a Group F opener. Leandro Barbosa led Brazil with 22 points. Corey Webster scored 19 for New Zealand.

MONDAY SCHEDULE

Group A: Venezuela (0-1) vs. Ivory Coast (0-1), China (1-0) vs. Poland (1-0)

Group B: Nigeria (0-1) vs. Argentina (1-0), Korea (0-1) vs. Russia (1-0)

Group C: Tunisia (0-1) vs. Iran (0-1), Puerto Rico (1-0) vs. Spain (1-0).

Group D: Italy (1-0) vs. Angola (0-1), Serbia (1-0) vs. Philippines (0-1).


By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

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