ANKARA, Turkey – FIBA's decision to suspend Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis for their part in last week's brawl in an exhibition game against Serbia was "something unbelievable," Greece coach Jonas Kazlauskas said Friday.
FIBA's decision altered Kazlauskas' plans ahead of Saturday's opening game against China at the world basketball championships in Turkey. Both Fotsis and Schortsanitis will also be sitting on the bench during Sunday's game against Puerto Rico.
"It is a disappointment," Kazlauskas said at Ankara Arena after practice. "This is something unbelievable."
Both Fotsis and Schortsanitis, however, said they expected to be punished.
"This is the decision. We can't change it," Fotsis said. "It was very difficult not to punish us. We accept this punishment."
Schortsanitis said he would be ready to help the team when his suspension is over.
"I am not angry," said the Greece center, who is known as Baby Shaq. "We expected it."
The fight broke out during the last game of the Acropolis Tournament, which was abandoned with 2:40 remaining and Greece leading by one point. The players from both teams exchanged punches and kicks on the floor and in the tunnels leading to the dressing rooms.
It began when former NBA player Fotsis moved threateningly against Serbia guard Milos Teodosic, who had fouled him. Nenad Krstic, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, then grabbed Fotsis by the throat and threw a chair toward Schortsanitis, who was pursuing him. The chair hit Yannis Bouroussis, who had not played because of a hand injury, and left him with a bloody wound on the side of his head.
The teams were finally separated after they had carried the fray off the court.
China coach Bob Donewald said Greece was one of the best teams in the world and that the suspensions are unlikely to cause any serious problems.
"If the entire Greek team is suspended, then they might be affected," Donewald said. "They have so much talent, I don't think it will affect them."
Greece, the runner-up at the previous worlds in 2006, is in Group C with China, the Ivory Coast, Puerto Rico, Russia and Turkey.