Skourtopoulos meets with Giannis in USA
Ahead of the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup, representatives of the senior Greek national team travelled to the USA for important conversations with players competing in the NBA.
Head coach of the Greek national team, Thanasis Skourtopoulos, recently made the trip to America accompanied by manager Kostas Kotsis. With the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China approaching, preparations for the competition are intensifying, and one issue which has been on the lips of many is the possible participation of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo, who is regarded as one of the best basketball players in the world, didn’t play in any of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers. Two years ago, the 24-year-old Athens native missed the 2017 EuroBasket tournament through injury, and the Hellenic Basketball Federation subsequently accused Milwaukee of sabotaging his participation.
Nevertheless, assuming nothing changes, Antetokounmpo will play at the 2019 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in China between August 31 and September 15.
According to reports made by gazzetta.gr, Skourtopoulos and Kotsis visited the Milwaukee Bucks training centre, speaking with the management and Antetokounmpo himself. The conversations between the parties were productive and, most importantly, Antetokounmpo revealed his desire to play at the World Cup.
Mike Budenholzer, current head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, is also planning a trip to Greece in August to see Antetokounmpo play in the Hellenic jersey. The entire World Cup training program for Antetokounmpo has been shared with Milwaukee.
KOUFOS PREDICTED TO PARTICIPATE IN WORLD CUP
This summer, Kosta Koufos becomes a free agent with his Sacramento Kings contract expiring, however he will play at the 2019 World Cup assuming he signs a new NBA deal before August.
In the same report published by gazzetta.gr, it was revealed that Koufos wants to remain at the Kings for at least another two years, and the 30-year-old is close to signing a contract extension. Koufos has also received an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The priority for Koufos is signing a new NBA contract, and once that is complete (the signs suggest it will happen sooner rather than later), he will be fully available for World Cup participation. Koufos, born in the United States, hails from a Greek family and has been playing in the NBA for the whole of his senior basketball career.
A meeting was also held with Tyler Dorsey of the Memphis Grizzlies.
In January 2019, Dorsey transferred to the Grizzlies from the Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis want to keep the Greek on their books. If his contract with the Memphis Grizzlies is extended, Dorsey will be available for the World Cup, with Skourtopoulos counting on the promising 23-year-old shooting guard.
Dorsey was the 41st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. His mother has a Greek background.
On a more negative note, Skourtopoulos failed to meet with Kostas Antetokounmpo (the younger brother of Giannis) after the 21-year-old Dallas Mavericks power forward didn’t travel to the scheduled NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s not yet known if Kostas will be a part of Skourtopoulos’ plans for the World Cup squad.