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Giannis Antetokounmpo to play for Greece in 2022 EuroBasket

NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to play for Greece in the 2022 Eurobasket said the national team’s manager Nikos Zisis.

Zisis expects to confirm the participation of the Greek Freak in the 2022 EuroBasket, he told Greek public broadcaster ERT.

“Honestly, I wanted Giannis to succeed in the NBA Playoffs. We were convinced from our trip to Milwaukee that he really wanted to play for the national team in the summer. His playing status wouldn’t be affected by extending the campaign further in the postseason. Even if he was crowned champion, he would gladly play for us,” noted Zisis, “Missing [Khris] Middleton in a best-of-seven series was a huge blow. Giannis was amazing, gave it his all, and that was apparent.”

“We are waiting for him to rest up and afterwards arrange another meeting to confirm him being available [for EuroBasket], Zisis added. Alongside the director of national teams Dimos Dikoudis, he met with Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, in March.

Antetokounmpo, 27, and most NBA players are highly unlikely to play in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, also part of the summer schedule. Greece has already clinched a berth in the next round but will bump into Great Britain on 30 June.


RESOURCE | ABOUT GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO  

Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo  is a Nigerian-Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Antetokounmpo’s nationality, in addition to his size, speed, strength, and ball-handling skills have earned him the nickname “Greek Freak”.

Born and raised in Athens to Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club’s senior team before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. In 2016–17 he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. Antetokounmpo has received six All-Star selections, including being selected as an All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020, as he led the Eastern Conference in voting in these two years.

One of basketball’s most decorated players, Antetokounmpo won consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win two MVPs before turning 26. Along with his MVP award, he was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, becoming only the third player after Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) to win both awards in the same season. In 2021, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971 and was named Finals MVP.  The same year, he was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all-time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Early life
Giannis Adetokunbo was born in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 1994, the son of immigrants from Nigeria. Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos, leaving their firstborn son, Francis, under the care of his grandparents.  Adetokunbo grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia. His parents, as immigrants, could not easily find work, so Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis, helped by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets.  In 2007, Adetokunbo started playing basketball. 

Although Adetokunbo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically receive Greek citizenship as Greek nationality law follows jus sanguinis.  For the first 18 years of his life, Adetokunbo could not travel outside the country and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria.  He was eventually issued Greek citizenship on May 9, 2013, less than two months before the 2013 NBA Draft. 

After gaining Greek citizenship in 2013, his official surname became Αντετοκούνμπο, the Greek transcription of Adetokunbo, which was then transliterated letter-for-letter and officially spelled on his Greek passport as Antetokounmpo.  Giannis is the colloquial for the Gr. Ioannis (John). Because many could not pronounce his surname, he quickly became known as the “Greek Freak”.  Antetokounmpo also holds Nigerian citizenship, having received his Nigerian passport in 2015,  and as such possesses dual citizenship. 

 

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Stella Mazonakis

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