ISTANBUL – Basketball's governing body has rejected Greece's appeal of two player suspensions stemming from a brawl in a game against Serbia.
Patrick Baumann, FIBA's secretary general, said the punishment given to Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis will stand, and the players will miss the first two games of the world championships that open Saturday.
Baumann added that Serbia chose not to appeal the suspensions given to Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic. Krstic received the harshest penalty, a three-game ban, after throwing a chair in the Aug. 19 brawl near the end of a game in Athens.
Baumann said players representing their national teams have an "added obligation to behave properly."
"We are not in favor of violence and therefore we sanction the players," he said during a press conference before the opener of Group B play.
The United States heads that group, playing without superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. The tournament was plagued by player withdrawals, with top NBA talent such as Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Dirk Nowitzki skipping the event.
But Baumann said that "doesn't mean the technical level of the championship will be lower."
"This is an exciting moment for those that sometimes live a little bit in the shadows," Baumann said.
Baumann also said Britain's players have done well on the court, but the country's basketball leadership must show more commitment to earn an automatic berth into the 2012 Olympics in London.
The host country traditionally qualifies automatically for the Olympics, but FIBA isn't guaranteeing a spot until it sees basketball earn more of status in Britain.
Baumann praised Britain's players for recently qualifying for next summer's European championships, saying that's "evidence things are progressing." But he said it's "a matter for those behind the scenes," adding he wants to know what basketball's legacy would be in Britain once the Olympics are over.
A decision will probably be made next fall.