James Har­den says MVP ri­val Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo ‘up there’ with the best

Sun Star Bacolod - - Prime Sports -

JAMES Har­den be­lieves Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo is “up there” in the race to be crowned NBA MVP, but the Greek for­ward said “I don’t know if I’m there yet” after he in­spired the Bucks to a 116-109 vic­tory over the Rock­ets.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo scored 27 points, grabbed a ca­reer­high 21 re­bounds and added five as­sists Wed­nes­day (Thurs­day, Manila time) in Hous­ton.

Har­den ex­tended his Nba-record streak of record­ing at least 30 points and five as­sists to 14 games, pour­ing in a game-high 42 points in the loss.

The Rock­ets guard could win back-to-back

MVPS if he main­tains those stan­dards, but says

An­te­tok­oun­mpo has every chance of claim­ing the honor.

“He’s up there,”

Har­den said. “He’s def­i­nitely

[elite], just the way he im­pacts the game.”

How­ever, An­te­tok­oun­mpo, 24, down­played his prospects of claim­ing the NBA’S most pres­ti­gious in­di­vid­ual prize this sea­son.

“To be hon­est with you, all I care about right now is get­ting bet­ter, help­ing my team win,” he said. “And [the MVP award] is go­ing to take care of it­self.

“I know that one day it might hap­pen. I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I’m go­ing to do what­ever it takes to get there, be­cause that’s what I want to be.”

Rock­ets coach Mike D’an­toni also was full of praise for An­te­tok­oun­mpo but said it is too early in the sea­son to be dis­cussing who will be named the best player in the league.

“He’s not nor­mal,” D’an­toni said of the so­called “Greek Freak.” “I mean, that guy is 7 feet and has the [body] con­trol, and all that he does. The guy is a great, great player, so he’s in the [MVP] con­ver­sa­tion, be­cause they’re play­ing so well. And he should be, but we’ve got a lot of bas­ket­ball left.

“We’re only half­way there. He and James are up there with a cou­ple of other guys, and it’ll sort it­self out.”/foxs­ports.ph

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