The stars showed up at EuroBasket on Tuesday in a big way.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41 points in 27 minutes for Greece, Luka Doncic had 36 points for Slovenia and two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic scored 29 points for Serbia — three of the world’s best players all leading their teams to big group-stage wins at the European championships.
There’s one more group-stage game left for each to play, and then a trip to Berlin awaits since Greece, Slovenia and Serbia have all clinched spots in the 16-team knockout round that begins Saturday.
Antetokounmpo’s point total was the most in a EuroBasket game since Dirk Nowitzki had 43 for Germany in 2001. And when he heard that stat, all Antetokounmpo did was nod.
“I try not to rate my performance,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just try to go out there and have fun as much as possible, try to focus as much as I can on what I can control, try to bring energy any way possible. ... But I’ll say this: I think this is one of the years where I feel very, very excited to go out there on the court and play with my teammates.”
As Antetokounmpo did, Doncic also deflected credit after the game. Told that Germany’s postgame reaction was “Luka Doncic happened,” Doncic replied by saying “Slovenia happened.”
“The whole team was ready,” Doncic said. “Everybody who stepped on the court was fighting, whether they played one minute or 30. I’m really proud of this team.”
Doncic was asked after the game if he or Antetokounmpo was in a better position to break the EuroBasket single-game scoring record.
Doncic didn’t hesitate with his answer: He picked Antetokounmpo.
“I would bet on Giannis,” Doncic said. “Why? Because he’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.”
GREECE 99, UKRAINE 79
At Milan, Antetokounmpo simply overpowered Ukraine and ensured that Greece would finish atop its group.
Antetokounmpo — who got Monday off to rest — had his 41 points and nine rebounds in just 27 minutes to lead Greece (4-0).
He was 13 for 18 from the floor, 15 for 18 from the foul line.
“It was very easy to prepare the team because it is absolutely clear what Greece does when Giannis is out there,” Ukraine coach Ainars Bagatskis said. “They play really aggressive basketball. And if you don’t put against them the same aggressiveness, even higher aggressiveness, then you have big problems.”
Nick Calathes and Tyler Dorsey had 13 apiece for Greece.
Issuf Sanon and Svi Mykhailiuk each scored 16 for Ukraine (3-1), while Alex Len and Illya Sydorov added 10 apiece. Ukraine led by seven at the half, before Greece won the third quarter 32-11.
ESTONIA 94, GREAT BRITAIN 62
Henri Drell scored 20 points, Siim-Sander Vene added 18 and Estonia had no trouble on the way to its first win of the tournament.
Maik-Kalev Kotsar scored 15, Kristjan Kitsing added 14 and Janari Joesaar finished with 11 for Estonia (1-3).
Myles Hesson scored 14 for Great Britain (0-4), with Carl Wheatie and Patrick Whelan each scoring 12.
ITALY 81, CROATIA 76
Simone Fontecchio and Nicolo Melli each scored 19 points to lead Italy (2-2).
Bojan Bogdanovic led Croatia (2-2) with 27 points, while Ivica Zubac scored 13 and Dario Saric added 10.
Both teams are headed to the knockout round.
SLOVENIA 88, GERMANY 80
At Cologne, Germany, Doncic’s 36 points came with him making 14 of 25 shots. He also had 10 rebounds for Slovenia (3-1).
Goran Dragic scored 18 points and Mike Tobey added 10 for Slovenia.
“We showed what we are made of,” Dragic said.
Dennis Schroder scored 19 points, Andreas Obst had 14 and Maodo Lo added 13 for Germany (3-1).
LITHUANIA 87, HUNGARY 64
Lithuanian basketball is known for a lot of things, including passionate fans.
They go everywhere to cheer for their national team. And Tuesday, they even cheered for France — for good reason.
Lithuania topped Hungary and that, combined with France’s win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, means the last qualifying spot out of Group B is still unclaimed. It’ll be decided Wednesday when Lithuania plays Bosnia and Herzegovina, the winner moving on to Berlin and a round-of-16 game, the loser heading home eliminated.
“Lithuanian fans are the best,” France guard Evan Fournier said.
If France had lost Tuesday, Lithuania would have been eliminated. Instead, those Lithuanian fans serenaded the French with cries of “Merci!” for keeping their national team’s hopes alive.
“It feels amazing,” Lithuania forward Domatas Sabonis said. “They travel to every championship to support us. It’s sad we couldn’t give them a win over the weekend, but we’re glad we could give them one today and the goal is to give them another one tomorrow.”
Jonas Valanciunas scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting and Sabonis added 19 for Lithuania (1-3).
Marius Grigonis had 15 points and Rokas Jokubaitis added 10 for Lithuania. Zoltan Perl scored 16 for Hungary (0-4), while David Vojvoda and Rosco Allen each finished with 10.
FRANCE 81, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 68
Thomas Heurtel’s 3-pointer with 5:49 left put France ahead to stay and started a game-ending 22-7 run for the winners, who were already assured of a spot in the round of 16.
Guerschon Yabusele scored 15 for France (3-1), while Heurtel and Fournier each had 14 and Rudy Gobert posted an 11-point, 12-rebound performance.
Jusuf Nurkic, Miralem Halilovic and Dzanan Musa all had 14 for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2-2), while John Roberson had 13 and Edin Atic finished with 10.
TURKEY 78, BELGIUM 63
At Tbilisi, Georgia, Alperen Sengun scored 24 points, Furkan Korkmaz had 16 and Turkey (3-1) remained tied atop Group A.
Ercan Osmani added 12 for Turkey.
Haris Bratanovic scored 15 for Belgium (2-2) and Hans Vanwijn scored 11.
SPAIN 82, MONTENEGRO 65
Spain (3-1) clinched its berth in the round of 16, with Dario Brizuela leading the way with 18 points.
Willy Hernangomez scored 14 for Spain, while Jaime Pradilla and Lorenzo Brown added 12 apiece.
Vladimir Mihailovic scored 18 for Montenegro (2-2), which got 11 from Marko Simonovic and 10 from Kendrick Perry.
BULGARIA 92, GEORGIA 80
Dee Bost had 33 points and 12 assists, Aleksandar Vezenkov finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Bulgaria kept its hopes alive.
Pavlin Ivanov scored 17 for Bulgaria (1-3).
Goga Bitadze scored 21 for Georgia (1-3), while Thaddus McFadden had 19, Alexander Mamukelashvili scored 13, and Giorgi Shermadini and Duda Sanadze scored 10 apiece.
SERBIA 89, ISRAEL 78
At Prague, Jokic was 11 of 13 from the floor and also grabbed 11 rebounds for Serbia (4-0), while Vasilije Micic added 19.
Nikola Kalinic and Ognjen Jaramaz each scored 10 for Serbia.
Yam Madar scored 20 for Israel (2-2), while Deni Avdija had 14 and Roman Sorkin added 11.
POLAND 75, NETHERLANDS 69
Poland was down by 13 in the third quarter before closing the game on a 39-20 run to tune up for its knockout-stage appearance.
Michal Sokolowski scored 24 for Poland (3-1), which got 16 from Aleksander Balcerowski and 10 from Jakub Garbacz.
Charlon Kloof led the Netherlands (0-4) with 26, and Yannick Franke scored 13.
FINLAND 98, CZECH REPUBLIC 88
Lauri Markkanen continued his strong tournament with 34 points and 10 rebounds, and Finland clinched its berth in the round of 16.
Sasu Salin scored 23 and Petteri Koponen added 14 for Finland, with Elias Valtonen finishing with 11.
Vojtech Hruban scored 22 for the Czech Republic, with Jan Vesely adding 15 and Patrik Auda and Jaromir Bohacik scoring 13 apiece. The Czechs play Israel on Thursday and, according to FIBA, could reach the knockout stage with a win.
First-round play in Groups A and B concludes, with Groups C and D getting the day off before they finish their round-robins on Thursday. Friday is an off day and the knockout round in Berlin starts Saturday.
Group A: Turkey (3-1) vs. Spain (3-1), Bulgaria (1-3) vs. Belgium (2-2), Georgia (1-3) vs. Montenegro (2-2). The Turkey-Spain winner will win the group. Bulgaria and Georgia are in must-win scenarios.
Group B: Lithuania (1-3) vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina (2-2), France (3-1) vs. Slovenia (3-1), Hungary (0-4) vs. Germany (3-1). France, Slovenia (which wins the group with a victory) and Germany have already qualified, Hungary is eliminated and the Lithuania-Bosnia game is the one that matters most.