Missas: “If Giannis was healthy, he would have played even if the Bucks said no”
In an interview with Greek newspaper “To Vima”, Greece coach Kostas Missas talked about the situation surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo and the national team. He mentioned that if Antetokounmpo was healthy, he would have played for the Ethniki even at the disapproval of the Milwaukee Bucks.
When asked about the saga surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence from Eurobasket 2017, Missas stated: “The whole story with Giannis is clear. Giannis wanted to play. From the beginning, he tried his best to overcome his knee injury, despite heavy pressure from his team [Bucks] when he joined Greece’s preparations for the Eurobasket. He gave 100% in the training sessions. The final decision came down to his medical tests, which he failed, solidifying his absence from the Eurobasket. That's the end of the story”.
When asked if doctors should have been sent to Athens to evaluate Giannis’ situation Missas commented: “When I spoke to the Bucks’ general manager and asked him if he had knowledge of Giannis’ numerous events, he did not reply. Complete silence. A controversial development in the situation was that the Bucks should have sent their doctors to Athens following the team’s return from Karpenisi, but they did not send anyone”.
When asked if he would have allowed Giannis to travel to China, if he was Greece’s head coach from February, Missas said: “If it was a trip sponsored by the NBA, and knowing Giannis’ fame, it would not have mattered if he went for 3-4 days, but I would have informed the other players. Following Karpenisi, I talked to the players and informed them about the issues surrounding Giannis, including his trip to China and his medical problems. In addition, I cannot overlook the fact that Giannis came to play with the Ethniki last year for the Pre-Olympic tournament, setting aside his contract with the Bucks. Anyone can say whatever they like, but we cannot forget that he is 22 years old and truth be told, if he was healthy, he would have played with the Ethniki even if the Bucks told him not to.”
Missas commented when asked if Giannis’ absence will affect the team’s playing style: “Giannis would have added 7-8 rebounds, extra speed on the fast break, and the ability of playing in multiple positions. The rebounds can be covered through teamwork, the speed on the fast break can be covered through the team's concentration to produce an effective transition on the attack. As for Giannis’ size and his ability to play in multiple positions; let’s face it, you cannot replace that.
Missas went on say that the Ethniki has first class players that can handle the pressure of the European championships and the knockout stages. He finished by saying that no conclusions can be made from the friendly matches as the Eurobasket is a completely different environment and the results there are what count.
The Greek newspaper “Proto Thema” revealed a letter from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Hellenic Basketball Federation (EOK) dated on August 2nd. According to that letter, the Bucks stated that they would not give Giannis permission to play at Eurobasket due to a knee injury. They went on to inform EOK that they would send their own physician in order to evaluate Giannis’ condition and help him achieve a speedy recovery. This letter of course was sent almost 18 days before Giannis was officially “ruled out” by the Bucks. The letter can be seen below: