The Greek National Basketball team is just one of the handful of teams still undefeated in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers, winning all five games in the first stage.
Head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos, who has been in charge of the team since the start of the qualifiers, said “from the very first moment I made clear that all of the players that are here belong to this team. It is no joke to play for the national team, even if it’s for a few games… and just because some players have been on the national team in the past, it does not mean that they have to play constantly. It is very important to expand the national team base.”
Skourtopoulos has used the first stage qualifies as a test ground for players who might have otherwise been overlooked by the national team. At the time though, he also notes that staying on the same page with the high profile players that are currently not on the team is also a top priority.
In particular, the head coach is hopeful that the ‘Greek Freak’, NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will play for Greece in September. He stated “unless something extraordinary and very serious arises, I think he will come to the national team. He is aware of everything about the camp, he has the training program. He has shown interest and I think he will be in the national team for the first games of the next phase.”
But even when Giannis rejoins the national team, Skourtopoulos promises not to forget the effort and dedication that all players involved in the Qualifiers put in throughout the campaign. “We want to show that we operate properly. And I’m sure there are places in the final roster for the players who made a huge effort during the windows if we qualify for the World Cup in China,” he said. “I think a significant number of the players who played in the windows will have a place on the final roster. There will be an opportunity to be compensated” he said.