|Host City: Kayseri|
|Host City: Istanbul|
|Host City: Ankara|
|5. Puerto Rico||1/4||6|
|6. Cote d'Ivoire||1/4||6|
|Host City: Izmir|
|3. New Zealand||3/2||8|
|#||Name||P||Height||DOB||Place Of Birth||Club|
|31/05/1985||London, England||Panathinaikos, A1 Ethniki (GRE)|
|Min||Minutes played||Tot||Total rebounds||BS||Block Shots|
|%||Shooting percentage||PF||Personal fouls||G||Played Games|
Giant killing Greeks aiming to go one better
Knocking out the star-studded favourites USA from the 2006 FIBA World Championship is what international basketball followers remember from four years ago. Greek fans however remember losing to Spain and finishing ‘only’ second. This year they are aiming to go one better.
Basketball is big in Greece and Greece is big in basketball. With one of the best domestic leagues in the world, some of the most passionate fans and a great pool of talented players, the Hellenic nation has been one of the major forces on the world stage.
The country’s rise to the top began in 1987 when they won the European Championship by beating the USSR, whose 1988 Seoul Olympic Games gold medal winning side is considered one of the legendary teams in the history of the international game.
Last time around Greece shocked the world in beating the USA in the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship. They would go on to secure a Silver medal, which would be considered a great success for just about every country. But for the Greeks, four years ago, the loss in the final against Spain in Saitama, was worst than taking last place in the same tournament.
“Teo” (Theodoros Papaloukas), “3D” (Dimitris Diamantidis), “V-Span” (Vasileios Spanoulis), “Big Sofo” (Sofoklis Schortsanitis) “Mika” (Michail Kakiouzis) and all the other players of that 2006 team had won their semi-final one day earlier against an unbeaten USA Team and 24 hours later they just didn’t have the mental power to overcome the ‘Gasol-less’ Spain, something that is still a “black spot” for them - although maybe not for the Greek fans and Greek basketball.
That victory (101-95) against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony was maybe the biggest game ever and the biggest win ever for Greek National Team - perhaps even bigger than the 1987 EuroBasket triumph over USSR to win gold.
Now, Greece will be without some of its old stars like Papaloukas, ex-captain Kakiouzis. But with a new coach in Lithuanian Jonas Kazlasouskas and with many new faces in the roster, they will try to reload this success.
Playing in the neighbouring country of Turkey with many Greek fans (the famous “Pelargoi”) on its side, Greece will open a new chapter in their history. After a decade that includes three medals in major competition (gold in 2005, bronze in 2009 at EuroBasket and a silver at the FIBA World Championships in 2006) plus a fifth place finish in 2004 and the 2008 Olympics, the team also finished fourth at EuroBasket 2007.
The Greek team is ready for this new challenge. Kazlauskas who managed to lead the team without its two stars Papaloukas and Diamantidis to third place at EuroBasket 2009 in Poland continues smoothly in changing the roster and adding new faces.
Last year it was ex-Gators guard Nick Calathes and Utah Jazz’s center Kostas Koufos while, this time Ian Vougioukas, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Kostis Vasiliadis and the youngsters Kostas Papanikolaou and Nickos Pappas were brought in alongside the more experienced core of Diamantidis, Spanoulis (top-5 player of Eurobasket and European MVP at 2008), Antonios Fotsis, Nikos Zisis, Kostas Tsartsaris, Ioannis Bourousis, Schortsianitis and talented Georgios Printezis, Efstratios Perperoglou, Panayotis Vassilopoulos and Loukas Mavrokefalidis.
In Turkey this summer, Greece will be setting their sights high, ranking among a select few nations who can realistically be aiming for gold.
Head coach: Jonas KAZLAUSKAS