Giannis from 27 enchants Milan: the first is a show

Giannis from 27 enchants Milan: the first is a show

The two-time NBA MVP enthralled the Forum crowd with a sensational performance even on a night where his shot didn’t fit. For him 27 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks, one more decisive than the other, dragging Greece to victory over Croatia and inflaming the audience in the stands

MILAN – A quick tour around the Assago Forum is enough to understand why from the very early afternoon there is expectation. The shirts of the fans who approach the stadium on the outskirts of Milan are divided almost equally: half blue in honor of Greece, the other half of the Milwaukee Bucks with the number 34 in plain sight. The reason is simple: Milan wants Giannis Antetokounmpo and the arrival of the Greek national coach is also followed by fans hoping for an autograph or at least to be close enough to immortalize the two-time NBA MVP. The expectation is so high that even in the first match of the day, the one that sees Ukraine and Great Britain opposing, the public frame is anything but despicable. But it is when the national team led by Antetokounmpo enters the field for the warm-up that the Forum lights up: the ovation is immediate, as well as the chorus of “MVP! MVP! ” in the places immediately behind the Greeks’ bench, with the eyes of thousands of fans (we are talking about 6,500 tickets sold for the two afternoon matches) that focus only on Gianniswelcoming each basket of his warm-up with a small ovation.

Giannis isolated from the world and hunted by the defense


Giannis leads Greece, Croatia ko 89-85

The concentration of Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, is total. His face does not convey any hesitation, every movement of his warm-up is focused on the goal of being at the maximum for the tap-off of the match against Croatia, isolating himself from the outside world and seeking rhythm only with the songs put on by the deejay of the Milanese plant. During the warm-up he does not allow dunks, but rather needs his brother Thanasis to pretend to defend strongly against him to find some rhythm from the arc after a couple of downright bad mistakes for a player of his caliber. And in fact, the lack of precision is also noticeable at the beginning of the game: Giannis misses the first shots that he takes in suspensionand the defense of Croatia is ready to close on him with an instant doubling of the couple Ivica Zubac-Dario Saric, even at the cost of forgetting Thanasis around the field (and they pay duty with five points in a row of the elder brother of the family Antetokounmpo for overtaking Greece after a difficult start). Tyler Dorsey takes full advantage of the space available due to Giannis’ presencewho scores 20 points in the first half alone and closes as the best scorer of the match at 27. At the end of the game, the coach of Croatia Damir Mulaomerovic indicates in him “the real player who killed us”, while he said he was all in all satisfied with the work done on “a special player like Antetokounmpo”. And you can’t blame him.

Croatia Crotia – Greece Greece

The Forum lights up to the rhythm of Giannis

It doesn’t take much to make the Forum a small Piraeus or a small Oaka: the greek audience is very hot, with the segment of fans on the corner throwing chants and the rest of the stands responding in kind. On the field Antetokounmpo, at least in the first half, runs alongside the game: the shot from outside does not enter and he thinks above all of serve free companions on the perimeter. Coach Itoudis has put him at the center of the game and the field: every action starts from his block or reception, even using it as a “red herring” and finding the faithful Sloukas on the perimeter. Just a combination between the two is celebrated by a look of understanding between the coach and his best player, who in any case without even realizing flirts with the triple double (12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists) at first from low gears. Even in this way, however, it is impossible to keep it away from the iron: Croatia is forced to send him to the line and he is positive in the evening (9/11 at the end), despite someone from the stands trying to count the seconds it takes to take the shot like the Miami Heat fans (and not only) in the NBA playoffs.

The trend of the second half follows that of Antetokounmpo: when he comes onas in the case of a basket and foul at the start of the second half, all of Greece follows him and the Forum ignites; when it turns offespecially with a shot from outside that doesn’t want to get in (0/4 of three), Croatia finds new energies and goes back on more than one occasion. However, it is the defensive plays of Antetokounmpo, in the end, that decide the game. Giannis comes out of nowhere for a couple of sensational blocks that cancel out Croatia’s baskets already made and they change the inertia of the match: one on Bojan Bogdanovic so sudden that he emerges hidden from behind the basket support, at least from the position from which we observed the game; the second, at the end of the game, clears a triple from Jaleen Smith’s corner (the last to surrender of the Croats with 23 points) while starting to jump with his feet from inside the painted area, unrolling all 221 centimeters of his arm span for to eat the space that separated him from the Croatian shooter. A defensive play sealed by another sprint of his: field devoured with a dribble, do it immediately, basket in continuity, public in delirium and kiss to the writing HELLAS on the shirt. In the middle, and in the most difficult moment of the fourth period, there is also one overhead dunk on an assist from Nick Calathes for +4 with 46 seconds left which effectively closes the score: it is the last act of a performance one would say normal (27 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, 9/24 shooting and 9/11 free in 28 and a half minutes), but which has nothing normal when on the pitch there is one of the three or four best players in the world. And the Forum, raving about the MVP, is all at his feet. Waiting for tomorrow and the challenge with Italy.

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