Ahead of Greece’s final Group stage match today against New Zealand at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos and basketball player, Kostas Sloukas spoke to the media.
Greece simply have to win on Thursday. After confidently beating Montenegro in the first game, the Greeks were expected to achieve a similar result against Brazil, but a poor performance in the second half resulted in a painful 79-78 loss.
Thanasis Skourtopoulos feels the players will learn from their mistakes:
Mood within the team after losing to Brazil: “We have lost the advantage in the group. However, we now have to regroup and qualify for the next round. There is no other option. We have spoken to the guys, everyone is determined to succeed, and all mistakes have been analysed. We know how we need to work.”
Form of Giannis Antetokounmpo: “Giannis couldn’t find any rhythm against Brazil. In attack, we still managed to score 78 points, but the problem was our defence. We had no energy in defence at all. Giannis did win three fouls and help Giorgos Printezis score points in the match on Tuesday.”
The factor of having to win: “We always want to win, regardless of the circumstances. We must be calm. Our goal on Thursday is to qualify for the next stage. The second half against Brazil? We played worse as a team than in the first half. We tried to find solutions, but it didn’t help.”
Criticism of the team: “We’ve only heard criticism over the course of the past two years. We’re just trying to do the best job we can. Everyone can make the own judgements. Yes, we lost the last game, but we have to move on. We need a reaction. Social media? I don’t bother with that at all. There is no question that this group of players is united.”
Kostas Sloukas, who missed a golden opportunity to force overtime against Brazil, shared his expectations for the match:
Disappointing defeat against the Brazilians: “They gave me a gift with the free throws at the end of the game, but I couldn’t score. In my opinion, that wasn’t the key moment. The decisive factor of the defeat was the fact we let a 17-point lead slip. We made bad decisions in attack and allowed them to score easy baskets. They began playing their own game.”
Chances of qualifying for the next round: “I believe in my team. We have to beat New Zealand and then see what happens in the next phase of the competition. Tomorrow is a different match, the opponents are good shooters. We must be calm and remained focused on our target.”
The Greeks will play their final match in Group F against New Zealand on Thursday 5th September at 15:00 (*Greek time).