Hey, remember that time a Greece-Serbia friendly broke out into a rootin’, tootin’, chair-throwin’ brawl? When Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis went absolutely nuts?
Even if you don’t (which you really should — it’s been the most notable moment in the lead-up to the FIBA World Championships), I’m pretty sure the Serbian and Greek players, do. And FIBA, too, judging by the fact that they doled out suspensions yesterday.
Suspensions that the coaches of each national team don’t seem to be too happy about. From the Associated Press:
[Serbia coach Dusan] Ivkovic criticized FIBA for waiting until less than 48 hours before the start of the tournament to suspend Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic and guard Milos Teodosic for their roles in a brawl in Greece.
Krstic will miss the first three games and Teodosic the first two.
Ivkovic said Serbia has lost “two key players” for the games against
Angola, Germany and Jordan. “We will be playing 10 against 12 in
the first two matches and 11 against 12 in the third and that’s a big
handicap,” Ivkovic said.
“We have to react in a very short time,
I have to prepare my players mentally,” Ivkovic added. “Krstic is our
captain, or pillar, our main offensive option. Without Teodosic, we
lose a lot of creativity.”
Greece coach Jonas Kazlauskas said the
FIBA suspensions altered his plans ahead of Saturday’s opening game
against China. Both Fotsis and Schortsanitis will also be sitting on
the bench during Sunday’s game against Puerto Rico. “It is a disappointment,” Kazlauskas said after practice at Ankara Arena in Ankara, Turkey. “This is something unbelievable.”
Personally, I find both Ivkovic and Kazlauskas’ reactions to be a bit…surprising. Coaches of national teams often take on this “us against the world” mentality, probably because it literally is them against the world. Still, though FIBA officials could certainly have issued a quicker, and more decisive ruling, both coaches should understand that their players got off easy.
Krstic threw a chair at someone, and will sit for three preliminary games. Sofoklis Schortsanitis’ damage wasn’t even properly captured by the camera, but looks plenty brutal enough. It doesn’t matter if FIBA games have a “European atmosphere,” or not, this isn’t acceptable behavior. FIBA issued a statement saying as much, and then proceeded to issue a few slaps on the wrist for the players involved.
This isn’t “something unbelievable,” unless Kazlauskas agrees that FIBA should have been a bit more harsh in their punishment. There’s no use in Ivkovic griping about how long it took to issue the suspensions when everyone got off a bit easy. The coaches aren’t just looking the gift horse in the mouth on this one, they’re punching it in the mouth.
Or maybe even throwing a chair.