Antetokounmpo restates ambition to return to Greece fold

Antetokounmpo restates ambition to return to Greece fold

Giannis Antetokounmpo has restated his ambition to represent Greece at next summer’s FIBA World Cup in China, while Greece head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos has begun to consider his plans for the final tournament...

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Milwaukee Bucks superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has restated his wishes to represent Greece at next summer’s FIBA World Cup in China in a recent interview with The National Herald.

Antetokounmpo, who last played for Greece nearly three years ago during the qualifiers for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is hoping to make a return to the Ethniki after missing EuroBasket 2017 through injury – a claim the Hellenic Basketball Federation (EOK) refuted.

The controversy surrounding Antetokounmpo’s absence led to harsh criticism from the Greek press and Greek fans, many of whom remain unconvinced Antetokounmpo will suit up for the Ethniki again.

“I want to be there,” Giannis told The National Herald when asked about his return to international duty. “I wish to be healthy when I finish the season [with Milwaukee] and join Greece in the World Cup in China.”

Antetokounmpo faced criticism again last summer after declining to participate in the qualifying window for the World Cup in order to prepare for the 2018/2019 season with the Bucks.

In a visit to Athens last summer, Antetokounmpo initially stated that he would return to the National Team fold in China – messaging that has remained consistent nearly eight months later.

Skourtopoulos echoes Antetokounmpo’s sentiments

Antetokounmpo’s desire to represent Greece at the World Cup has resonated with Greece head coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos.

Skourtopoulos, who supported Antetokounmpo’s wishes to return to the National Team, indicated he is not ready to discuss Greece’s roster for the World Cup but admitted that Antetokounmpo is a major gamechanger for the Ethniki.

“Giannis’ inclusion is a peculiarity for us. I do not want to talk about the roster because it is too early. At the moment, our plan is the same as it is in Milwaukee. We intend to use Giannis in the ‘4’ or ‘5’ position, Skourtopoulos admitted.

Despite indicating that Antetokounmpo will star as a “libero” in the Greece starting five, Skourtopoulos didn’t offer up much in terms of who would feature alongside the 24-year-old.

“I want all the players to end their obligations in the best way possible and to be healthy. I would rather have the problem afterwards about who we are going to select,” Skourtopoulos concluded.

Greece became the first team from Europe to qualify for next summer’s final tournament back in September.

With qualification from across the globe set to conclude later this month, Greece are expected to be among the top-seeded teams for the draw for the final tournament on 16 March.


by Peter Katsiris

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