Friday Frappé: See you in China!
In this week’s edition of the Friday Frappé, AGONAsport’s Peter Katsiris reflects on Greece’s early qualification for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and how the Ethniki avoided a potentially tricky situation…
Watch LIVE GREEK TV including full GREEK SPORTS coverage from AGONASport.com!
Greece will be joining the elite of international basketball at the 2019 FIBA World Cup after booking early qualification for next summer’s showpiece with back-to-back wins over Serbia and Georgia in the recent qualifying window.
In the first-ever football-style qualifying campaign, Greece managed to avoid a potentially tricky situation further down the road by taking care of business early on in their qualifying campaign.
After breezing through the first phase of qualifying without their regular starters due to the ongoing dispute between FIBA and the EuroLeague, Greece were boosted by the return of regular starters likes Kostas Sloukas and Nick Calathes for the start of the second phase.
With their 6-0 record from the first round carrying forward to the second phase, Greece improved to 8-0 after an impressive win against Serbia in Heraklion and a wild defeat of Georgia in Tbilisi.
While a heavily-fancied Greece side didn’t necessarily get the job done in the most comfortable fashion even with the “best” Greek players at the disposal of head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos, the fact that qualification for the World Cup has been confirmed this early must come as a huge relief for the Hellenic Basketball Federation.
In fact, many countries would wish to be in Greece’s position in terms of qualifying for the World Cup as the next two windows of qualifying will overlap with the busy European schedule. That overlap means that Greek internationals playing for the likes of Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, and other EuroLeague clubs won’t be allowed to take part in qualifying.
Although Greece have a wealth of talent that can provide great depth to the traditional starting lineup for the Ethniki, nerve-racking wins in the first phase of qualifying gave a possible preview of how stressful the final two windows of qualifying would have been had Greece left it all to do. Of course, Greece will still want to finish their qualifying campaign on a high note but with nothing more than just pride on the line the final four matchdays on the road to China will be a lot less stressful.