NBA

Giannis hails Bucks' lesser lights: We're going to need everybody to win the championship

By Sports Desk November 10, 2021

Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo says the Milwaukee Bucks will reap the benefits of rotating their roster amid injuries later in the championship race.

The reigning champions overcame the under-manned Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers 118-109 on Tuesday, snapping a run of five losses in six games.

Antetokounmpo starred with 31 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, but unheralded Grayson Allen and Bobby Portis impressed in the absence of small forward Khris Middleton (COVID-19) and center Brook Lopez (back).

Allen hit five three-pointers to finish with 25 points, while starting center Portis had 19 points and 10 rebounds across 35 minutes on court. Semi Ojeleye added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

"Obviously you always want to win, you play to win," Antetokounmpo said during his post-game news conference. "Grayson and Semi today were really good.

"Semi was shooting his open shots, he was being aggressive, diving for the ball. That's good. We're going to need that.

"We need these guys feeling comfortable playing with me and Jrue [Holiday]. We're going to need everybody to win a championship and play down the stretch in May and June."

Allen, who joined the Bucks from the Memphis Grizzlies in the off-season, went eight-for-13 from the field, including shooting at 56 per cent from beyond the arc.

"Grayson did a good job getting to the right spots," Antetokounmpo said.

The Bucks finished strong with a 27-16 fourth quarter to get over the 76ers, who were without Joel Embiid. The win improves Milwaukee's record to 5-6 on the season.

"It's always good to get a win," the Greek forward said. "Sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it's ugly, but a win is a win. We're trying to build some momentum here.

"With a stop or a block or a play or a pass, just do whatever it takes to get a win. That's what my team needs me to do. That's why I showed a bit of emotion... I just wanted us to get a win."

Holiday missed his three attempts from three-point range and shot four-for-14 from the field to finish with eight points in his third game back from an ankle injury.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "I thought he had some big plays defensively. His effort on the boards, he can put a body on a guy like Drummond, so Giannis and Bobby can clean stuff up. Jrue is working his way and really getting better."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: Watson credits 'flawless' Niemeier after seeing best grand slam run halted Wimbledon: Watson credits 'flawless' Niemeier after seeing best grand slam run halted

    Heather Watson praised Jule Niemeier's "flawless" performance after seeing her best Wimbledon run ended by the German in a straight-sets last-16 reverse.

    Watson was beaten 6-2 6-4 by Niemeier on the 100th anniversary of Centre Court's opening, as the home favourite fell short of a first career grand slam quarter-final appearance.

    Niemeier's win set up a last-eight clash with compatriot Tatjana Maria, as two German female players reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the same year for just the fifth time since 1987.

    In her post-match news conference, Watson lauded her opponent's display and said she will eventually look back on her run to the fourth round with pride. 

    "Immediately after walking off the court, I was obviously extremely disappointed. I've taken every match here as a big opportunity and managed to take advantage of it until today," she said.

    "But credit to my opponent. I felt like she played really well, especially in that first set. Very flawless tennis. 

    "She served big, which was a big difference today, I felt like I was always reacting to her ball. I was not on the front foot like I was in my other matches.

    "It's so soon after the match, I'm still deflated and disappointed, I saw today as a big opportunity and thought I would come through it.

    "I've always felt good enough, I've won four WTA titles – that's not easy. I know when I light it up I can beat anyone on my day, and tennis is so up and down. 

    "I'll look back and be proud of myself for this week, but right now I'm disappointed."

    Niemeier became the fourth-youngest German woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the Open Era, with only Bettina Bunge, Steffi Graf and Sabine Lisicki doing so at a younger age.

    The 22-year-old recognised the significance of winning on the day of Centre Court's centenary celebrations, after the likes of Roger Federer and Billie Jean King spoke during a parade of former champions, and even apologised to fans for eliminating a home hopeful.

    "I didn't want to watch the show before the match because I was pretty nervous and I saw all the players, so I didn't want to see it. But of course, it's a special place, it's one of the biggest courts on Tour," she said.

    "The court is so beautiful, and I feel honoured I had the chance to play on Centre Court.

    "I just want to say sorry that I had to kick out a British player today!"

  • Wimbledon: Maria joins the greats after reaching maiden grand slam quarter Wimbledon: Maria joins the greats after reaching maiden grand slam quarter

    Surprise Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tatjana Maria joined an illustrious list of greats after defeating Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday.

    Maria, a mother of two, returned from maternity leave under a year ago and came back from a set down to triumph 5-7 7-5 7-5 against the 2017 French Open champion. 

    That sent the 34-year-old into the first grand slam quarter-final of her career.

    With that achievement, the German matched a feat only six women had previously managed, as she became the seventh woman in the Open Era to reach the last eight of a major after turning 34.

    World number 103 Maria, who salvaged two match points in the second set, joins the great Billie Jean King, Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams on that distinguished list.

    Ostapenko was in a foul mood after seeing the match slip from her grasp, and received a frosty reception as she made her way off court.

    It could take nothing away from a special day for Maria, who said in her on-court interview: "Oh my God, it makes me so proud to be a mum.

    "That's the best thing in the world, I love to be a mum, I love my two kids. To be able to do this together, we practiced this morning with my daughter.

    "Everybody has been so nice, supporting us and believing in me and our family, it makes it really special."

    Next up for Maria is compatriot Jule Niemeier, who defeated Britain's Heather Watson in straight sets.

  • Gasperini reveals U-turn on Atalanta departure Gasperini reveals U-turn on Atalanta departure

    Gian Piero Gasperini has revealed he was ready to leave Atalanta at the end of last season, but decided to remain in Bergamo due to his respect for the club's owners and love for the fans.

    Gasperini took charge of Atalanta in 2016, with the club having posted five consecutive bottom-half Serie A finishes.

    The former Inter boss immediately oversaw a dramatic transformation in the club's fortunes, implementing a relentless attacking style while securing fourth place in his first season at the helm, before leading them to three consecutive third-place finishes between 2018-19 and 2020-21.

    Atalanta scored a staggering 188 league goals across the latter two of those campaigns, also reaching the Champions League knockout stages in both seasons.

    But their momentum stalled last season as they finished eighth in Serie A, leading to speculation 64-year-old Gasperini could depart.

    Gasperini said he was unsure of his future in May, but has now confirmed his desire to remain in Bergamo and build a new "young and strong" team.

    "With [Atalanta president Antonio] Percassi there is a relationship of esteem and gratitude. I told him, 'maybe I'm the one who has to go away', but he absolutely didn't want it," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "Now the momentum to start again is with us. If I am still here, it is because of the strong bond with the city. 

    "I perceived the demand of the people strongly and this conditioned me, because I was really ready to leave, if the club had wanted me to. 

    "Atalanta will be young and strong. I stayed for the people. There is a desire for revenge. 

    "We are not big, we are working to become big. In the meantime, we will fight, we will have fun."

    Gasperini's men were hampered by the unavailability of strike duo Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic for long periods last season, as the two forwards hit just 13 league goals between them and managed only 1,732 and 836 minutes of Serie A football respectively. 

    And he believes the club's failure to invest heavily in the transfer market after benefiting from Champions League revenue exacerbated their issues. 

    "New energies would have helped us," he added.  "We have had some important sales, substantial revenues from the Champions League, but we have remained very static, especially up front. 

    "In the last two years, with the resources available, it was the right time to introduce a new champion like [now-Sevilla attacker Alejandro] Gomez and Ilicic. Other profiles have arrived.

    "What I asked for was not done and we found ourselves on the edge."

    Gasperini's seventh Serie A season with Atalanta will begin with a trip to Sampdoria on August 13, before they host champions Milan eight days later.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.