- Greece’s Road to Rio 2016 -
Tomorrow, Greece tips off in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and AGONAsport.com brings you everything you need to know about Greece’s Road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games!
Format: Greece will play in the third of three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The venue is Turin, Italy. Six teams will partake in the Italian Qualifying Tournament including, Greece, Mexico, Iran, Croatia, Italy, and Tunisia, with only one team earning a ticket to the summer Olympic Games. There are two phases of the tournament, the group stage and knockout phase.
- Group Stage: The 6 teams are split into 2 groups of 3 teams. Greece is in Group A with Mexico and Iran, while Group B consists of Italy, Croatia, and Tunisia. The teams within a group will play each other once and the top two teams will advance to the knockout phase.
- Knockout Phase: The knockout phase will consist of four teams and will be a single game elimination. In the semi-finals, the winner of Group A will play the runner-up from Group B and the winner of Group B will play the runner-up of Group A. The winners of the two semi-finals will play in the tournament final. The winner of the final will qualify for the Summer Olympics.
The Greek Team: The National Team has new blood since their previous tournament, Eurobasket 2015. With Spanoulis and Zisis retiring from the team, a “new era” begins for Greece. There are 6 different players from the team that competed in last year’s European Championships including: T. Antetokounmpo, Athinaiou, Papapetrou, Agravanis, Bogris, and Charalampopoulos. Katsikaris’ biggest issue has been injuries, as 3 key players will miss the tournament, Printezis, Papanikolaou, and Sloukas. The 12-man roster can be found here.
Greece’s Preparations: Greece has played three friendlies in preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. They defeated Turkey twice, home and away, and lost to Serbia in their final test in Belgrade. Here is what we can take away from the friendlies…
- Positives: Greece has put on a good showing on the offensive end with Giannis Antetokounmpo taking the creative role. Without a doubt, he is Greece’s key player and will offer a lot on both ends of the court. Additionally, Bourousis is coming off of a great season in Spain (leading Laboral Kutxa to the Euroleague Final-4) and will provide not only talent, but experience to this young team. The average age of the team, 25.2, provides high hopes for the future. Greece’s new call-ups have never played at a major international tournament and their performance in the friendlies was a sigh of relief for Katsikaris. The new additions showed that they can offer a lot, and help the national team succeed. Finally, Greece was 40% from behind the arch in their 3 friendlies.
- Negatives: Turnovers. Greece had on average 18 turnovers in their 3 games. The defense seemed weak one-on-on, something that will need to be improved against teams like Croatia and Italy, that have players that can capitalize in those situations. Despite having height in the team, rebounding seemed to be a constant issue. In the three friendlies, the opposition had, on average, 10 offensive rebounds per game.
Greece’s Threats: There is no doubt that the biggest threats to Greece are Croatia and Italy. Croatia and Italy both have strong teams and we cannot ignore the “home court advantage” factor in favor of the Italians. In theory, the group stage should provide two “warm-up” games for the Greek team as they should easily win the group. That is, if they do not underestimate either team. For our National Team, the competition will really begin in the knockout phase, where they will theoretically have to defeat both Italy and Croatia to qualify for Rio.
- Italy: At Eurobasket 2015 Italy finished 3rd in their group, behind Serbia and Spain. In the group stage, they defeated Iceland, Spain, and Germany, but fell to Serbia and Turkey. They defeated Israel in the Round of 16 and lost to Lithuania, in overtime, in the quarter-finals. In the 5th-8th placed game, they defeated the Czech Republic to earn 6th place at Eurobasket 2015.
- Croatia: At Eurobasket 2015, Croatia finished 2nd in the group stage, behind first placed Greece. They lost to our National Team (72-70) and Georgia (indifferent match), while defeating Slovenia, Netherlands, and FYROM. In the Round of 16, they lost to the Czech Republic (80-59) and claimed 9th place at the tournament.
The Favorites: Greece, Croatia, and Italy are the three favorites to advance. Out of the three, Greece and Italy seem to have a slightly better roster than Croatia. However, the home court advantage could play a vital role.
At Rio 2016: Only three teams are needed to complete the Rio 2016 Olympic Basketball Tournament. They will come from the 3 qualifying tournaments. The teams that have already qualified include: USA, Venezuela, China, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Lithuania, and Nigeria. The teams from the first and 2nd qualifying tournaments will enter Group A with the United States, Venezuela, China and Australia, while the winner of the 3rd Qualifying Tournament (where Greece stands) will fall in Group B with Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Lithuania, and Nigeria.