Greece have won the Acropolis Tournament in Athens by edging out Serbia 74-73 but it came in controversial fashion as the final was abandoned following a huge brawl.
Serbia were doomed to only the second defeat of their preparations for the FIBA World Championship when a scuffle between Antonis Fotsis and Milos Teodosic turned into a major incident involving almost every player from both teams.
Both teams were sent from the court before the referees decided not to resume the game, handing Greece victory as they had led when the fight began, with two and half minutes still on the clock.
Passions had been running high through the game, and shortly before the fight began, Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic had been charged with a second technical foul and ejected, an incident Greece used to come back and take the lead.
Greece had dominated the early going and enjoyed a 24-15 lead.
But Serbia soon came back and they went into the final period with a 58-52 lead before things turned sour.
“After everything that has happened, we are very emotional,” Ivkovic said. “It is difficult to analyze the game. But that is not important right now. No one wanted to see an incident like this, and the responsibility is with the players of both teams, particularly those who came off the bench to get involved.”
However, Ivkovic does not expect there to be any lasting emnity between the two teams.
“I have coached several Greek players and I hope everything will calm down and these players will continue to be good friends, in the spirit of friendship that exists between Greece and Serbia.”
Sofoklis Schortsanitis led Greece with 18 points, while Nenad Krstic had 16 for Serbia.
Thursday’s other game saw Slovenia bounce back from defeat against Greece to beat Canada 86-71.
Slovenia took an early lead and continued to pull away, leading by 15 at half-time.
Canada fought back but had left themselves too much to do.
“Tonight was a great example of how you need to come focused every night with the right energy level and trust each other on the court,” said Canada coach Leo Rautins.
Jaka Lakovic led Slovenia with 19 points, while Beno Udrih added 13.
Jevohn Shepherd was Canada’s top scorer with 13.
“Tonight we didn’t play a full 40 minutes and didn’t match their aggression, which cost us in the end,” said Shepherd. “Now we have a few practices and three games left to make the adjustments before heading into the world championship.”