Greece was eliminated from the FIBA World Cup on Monday, and head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos believes things could've been different if the referees treated Giannis Antetokounmpo properly.
The reigning NBA MVP was called for two offensive fouls during Monday's game against the Czech Republic, the latter knocking him out of the contest with 5:32 remaining. Greece was leading 67-57 at the time and wound up winning by seven points, five short of what the team needed to advance into the quarterfinals.
"Giannis came to help us," Skourtopoulos told reporters postgame, according to Eurohoops' Aris Barkas. "He fights every day on the court. Not only during the games. But of course, he doesn’t get the respect he wants.
"And I’m talking about the two (offensive) fouls he received today, the third and fifth. You can’t call this kind of fouls on these players."
Skourtopoulos also called out the referees for not giving point guard Nick Calathes the benefit of the doubt whenever he attacked the Czech defense.
"Nick Calathes plays 37 minutes," said Skourtopoulos. "He has the ball in his hands all the time. He wins one foul. If someone can explain this? The guy drives all the time. They push him two times when he makes the layup, no one reacts. About Giannis ... it’s the same."
The Hellenic Basketball Federation filed a letter of protest to FIBA following the game. The governing body for Greek basketball called for the dismissal of the three referees involved in Monday's clash and the individual in charge of assigning the officials.
The game can be considered "an unprecedented alteration of result in the annals of European or global basketball," the federation said in a statement.
Antetokounmpo finished with 12 points, nine boards, four assists, and three steals, and Calathes poured in a game-high 27 points.
Greece was looking to improve on its ninth-place finish five years ago in Spain.