Ioannis Bourousis: Greece’s Ironman
Amidst the dispute between FIBA and the EuroLeague, there’s be no shortage of selection headaches for Greece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos, yet one man has risen to the occasion…
FIBA’s bid to modernize the qualifying campaign for the FIBA World Cup has caused several headaches for countless national teams aiming to qualify for next summer’s tournament in China.
In a move to mirror the qualifying path to that of football’s version of the World Cup, a battle off the court ignited between FIBA and governing bodies biggest adversary, the EuroLeague Basketball Company. In short, an unwillingness to settle the scheduling conflicts that a new, drawn-out qualifying campaign causes is the center of the debate between the two organizations. Consequently, many countries – not just in Europe – were forced to begin their qualifying campaign without several would-be starters.
Fortunately, Greece’s depth was able to steer the Ethniki to safe passage to next summer’s final tournament in September with a remarkable four games in hand thanks to a stellar 9-0 start to qualifying.
Greece’s success thus far has certainly been an example of excellent teamwork within the Ethniki’s ranks, but at the heart of that unity is the veteran presence of Ioannis Bourousis.
A 13-year veteran of the National Team, Bourousis has continuously answered the call to represent Greece on the international stage – even at the age of 35 and seemingly in the twilight of his career.
Having spent the majority of his career in Europe with various clubs in Greece and abroad, Bourousis took a new challenge in 2017 when he left Panathinaikos to join Chinese outfit Zhejiang Lions. Bourousis move to China was seen as an opportunity to play out a swan song to his career, but since Greece’s campaign to qualify for the World Cup began in November 2017 the scene of that swan song has shifted to the international scene.
Although many players have continued to feature on the international scene well past the age of 35, Bourousis’ presence is symbolic of Greece’s golden generation that captured EuroBasket 2005. In fact, Bourousis is the last player who was part of that triumph in Serbia and Montenegro more than 13 years ago.
While Bourousis’ involvement with the Ethniki is a subtle reminder of what is possible for the Episimi Agapimeni, Greece’s so-called “Ironman” has been a guiding light on the road to China.