Greece to miss two players for opening Worlds games

Greece will play its first match at the World Basketball Championship in Turkey against China today but will do so without two of its top players, after the sport’s world governing body, FIBA, punished several of those involved in a brawl between the Greek and Serbian teams last week. Greece will be without Panathinaikos forward Antonis Fotsis and Maccabi Tel Aviv center Sofoklis Schortsanitis for its first two games in Turkey, as FIBA came down hard on a total of four of the players involved in the fight at the Acropolis Tournament last week. The brawl broke out in the fourth quarter of the game on August 19 after a confrontation between Greece’s Antonis Fotsis and Serbia’s Milos Teodosic. The game was stopped and never resumed. Basketball’s world governing body has suspended Serbia’s Nenad Krstic for three games and fined him a total of 45,000 Swiss Francs (35,000 euros), while Teodosic, Fotsis and Schortsanitis have all been slapped with two-game bans. The basketball federations of both countries have been fined 20,000 Swiss Francs (15,000 euros). «FIBA believes that the judgment will send a strong message to all players that their behavior on and off the court must be exemplary and in line with the rules of basketball at all times,» the organization said in a statement. Serbia takes on Angola, Germany and Jordan in its first three Group A games before going up against Australia and Argentina. After its game against China, Greece plays Puerto Rico in Group C before facing Turkey, Ivory Coast and Russia. The news of Schortsanitis’s suspension was bittersweet for coach Jonas Kazlauskas, as he also learned that the center did not suffer a serious injury in the warmup before the game against the USA in Athens on Wednesday. However, the Lithuanian disagreed with the severity of the punishment. «This is something unbelievable,» he said after the team conducted its first training session in Ankara yesterday. Fotsis, who has been one of Greece’s best players in the warmup games, was more philosophical about the two-game ban. «Well, they couldn’t let us off scot-free because if they did, those kinds of things would happen in every match,» he told reporters.