ISTANBUL (2010 FIBA World Championship) – Greece basketball icon Dimitris Diamantidis announced after his country’s defeat to Spain at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey that he is retiring from the national team.
Diamantidis, widely acknowledged to be the best defensive player in Europe for the past several years, will concentrate on his club career at Panathinaikos.
“It’s the end of a long journey that had many beautiful moments, like Belgrade and Japan,” he said on Greek television.
“Now the time is for young players to come into the team.”
Diamantidis, 30, has been a vital part of the Greek national side since the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The following year in Belgrade, he made the all-tournament team of the EuroBasket along with Theo Papaloukas as Greece won the gold medal.
He then helped the Greeks reach the Final of the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan, which included a 101-95 victory over the heavily-favored Team USA in the Semi-Finals – a triumph that sparked celebrations in the streets of Athens.
Diamantidis and Greece finished fourth at EuroBasket 2007 in Spain and exited at the Quarter-Finals in a heartbreaking defeat to Argentina at the 2008 Olympics.
After having surgery following the 2008-09 season, he didn’t play for the Greeks at EuroBasket 2009 but returned to the side this summer in the hope of winning a medal.
Greece’s challenge in Istanbul ended on Saturday night in an 80-72 defeat to Spain.
While Diamantidis didn’t go out in a blaze of glory with a victory, he was one of the best players on the court with 16 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.