The optimism inside the Greek nationwide crew (eighth within the FIBA World Rankings), heading into the FIBA 2019 World Cup, is at an all time excessive. Undoubtedly the largest impetus for these lofty expectations is their celebrity, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
At simply 24-years-old, the 6-11 combo guard/ahead put collectively an unimaginable season for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks with averages of 27.7 factors per recreation, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.Three steals and 1.5 blocks, because the Bucks amassed a league-leading 60 wins.
Assuming Antetokounmpo will not be restricted to a extra conventional positional position in China, we might in reality see the crew make use of two totally completely different kinds of play, depending on whether or not or not he’s on the courtroom. His skillset is, afterall, fairly distinctive and while he can log heavy minutes, any alternative to protect power for the later rounds needs to be taken.
Giannis is one in every of three Antetokounmpo’s in Greece’s preliminary squad, being joined by older brother, Thanasis (Milwaukee Bucks) and youthful brother, Kostas (LA Lakers).
Guards, and fellow 2018-19 All-Euroleague First Workforce choices, Nick Calathes (Panathinaikos) and Kostas Sloukas (Fenerbahçe) will resume their longstanding roles because the crew’s ground generals, regardless of having solely appeared in a mixed 5 qualifying video games.
In what is going to doubtless be his farewell tour with the nationwide crew, veteran chief Ioannis Bourousis returns to China after his skilled profession took him to the Chinese language Basketball Affiliation’s Zhenjiang Lions in 2017. Bourousis turns 36 in November and is the final remaining participant from Greece’s 2005 FIBA EuroBasket profitable squad.
Greece began their marketing campaign off in dramatic style, needing a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Giannis Athinaiou (PAOK) to despatch an upstart Nice Britain within the very first recreation.
If that acquired the ball rolling, then the remainder of section one picked it up at full dash, going finish to finish for a fast-break dunk, because the Greeks completed the preliminary group stage an ideal 6-0. Finally, Workforce Hellas would go on to qualify with relative ease, profitable a powerful 11 of their 12 video games.
Consistency of participant availability has been a difficulty for various nations all through the qualifying home windows and Greece have been no completely different, with 31 completely different gamers that includes. Of these 31, just one participant, ahead Panagiotis Vasilopoulos (Peristeri), featured in all 12 video games.
The crew’s offensive firepower was apparent, because the Greeks averaged 81 factors per recreation, outscoring opponents by 7.7 factors. Hitting on 49.5% of their makes an attempt was a testomony to their effectivity and represented the most effective area aim proportion amongst European groups.
Bourousis (19.6 Effpg) had the most effective effectivity score per recreation among the many European gamers with greater than six video games performed through the World Cup 2019 qualifiers. A stable contributor, he grabbed probably the most rebounds for Greece in each the World Cups 2010 (38) and 2014 (55).
Workforce Hellas have been additionally opportunistic and testing on the defensive finish, averaging probably the most steals within the European Zone, with 10.2 per recreation. In 9 video games, 36-year-old energy ahead, Evangelos Margaritis proved himself an unlikely pick-pocket, averaging 1.9 steals per recreation.
Brazil (12th in FIBA world rating)
Apart from the USA, Brazil are the one crew to have certified for each one of many 18 FIBA Basketball World Cups. All through qualifying the Brazilians misplaced simply three video games and suffocated opponents, holding them to simply 65.6 factors per recreation – the bottom common all through the Americas. Having outscored opponents by a powerful 10.9 factors per recreation, the South American giants will probably be hoping to proceed on this vein as they pursue a 3rd World Cup title, and their first in 56 years.
Anderson Varejao (Flamengo) was pivotal to Brazil’s qualifying marketing campaign, showing in 10 of their fixtures. The 36-year-old 6-9 heart posted averages of 11.6 factors alongside 8.Three rebounds en path to a stable (crew excessive) effectivity score of 18.
Montenegro (28th in FIBA world rating)
Montenegro be part of the Czech Republic in making their FIBA Basketball World Cup debuts in China, having gained seven of their 12 qualifying video games. Notably, their conceded factors common of 75.1 per recreation en path to China, ranks because the worst amongst European groups that can participate within the World Cup.
Bojan Dubljevic (Valencia Basket Membership SAD) scored 18.2 factors per recreation in six qualifiers, the third highest common amongst European gamers. His 61.5% area aim proportion was the best amongst European forwards.
New Zealand (38th in FIBA world rating)
New Zealand gained Groupe E of the Asian Qualifiers, amassing 10 victories. Their participation in China marks their sixth FIBA World Cup look and their fifth in a row. The Tall Blacks’ 90.Eight factors per recreation was probably the most amongst the Asian zone, outscoring opponents by an unimaginable 19 factors per recreation.
The New Zealanders have been deadly from the three, hitting 41.9% from behind the arc. Corey Webster led the crew in scoring averaging 15.7 factors in his seven appearances, hitting 42.6% of his 6.7 three level area aim makes an attempt.
Sport 1 – Sunday 1 September vs Montenegro
The Montenegrins will obtain an enormous enhance to their hopes as their greatest star; 28-year-old, 7 foot, NBA All-Star, Nikola Vucevic joins the crew. Contemporary from signing a brand new four-year cope with the Orlando Magic, Vucevic will pair up with Bojan Dubljevic to create a formidable frontcourt.
While this Twin-Tower duo will trigger Greece some complications, it is the reverse match-up which is most definitely going to impression this recreation. One way or the other, Montenegro are going to have sluggish Giannis Antetokounmpo, this may most definitely come within the type of a zone protection. In contrast to the NBA, there isn’t a defensive three second rule, which can make Antetokounmpo (considerably) simpler to restrict.
Sport 2 – Tuesday 3 September vs Brazil
Greece and Brazil are so shut on the earth rankings, that this actually might go both means. The Brazilians will probably be led by a trio of veterans with vital NBA expertise; Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa (Minas Tenis Clube) and Marcelinho Huertas (Baskonia).
Controlling the game-tempo will probably be key and Brazil, maybe resulting from age, prefer to sluggish the sport down. Brazil’s mere 58 area aim makes an attempt per recreation within the American qualifiers is a testomony to their most popular pace of play (just one crew tried fewer photographs per recreation within the Americas). Fortunately for Greece, they’re able to enjoying effectively throughout a large number of various methods and have the expertise to function successfully in a half-court set.
Sport 3 – Thursday 5 September vs New Zealand
The Tall Blacks will probably be lacking some key gamers in China. Their greatest star, Steven Adams (Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder), is but to swimsuit up for the senior nationwide crew and each very long time captain, Mika Vukona (Brisbane Bullets) and 24-year-old guard Reuben Te Rangi have been dominated out with damage.
Of his 14 man roster, Head Coach Paul Henare mentioned “We believe we have a balanced group of players, a group that is young in age but long in experience and understands the pressure we will face in the weeks ahead and the opportunity that is in front of them”
New Zealand have loads of offensive weapons, with all 5 of their gamers who averaged double digit scoring within the qualifiers, current within the squad. The crew has depth too, with their bench placing up a mean of 41.Eight factors per recreation. Greece ought to have the ability to deal with them, however New Zealand shouldn’t be taken evenly.
Greece’s finest efficiency in a World Cup, to this point, was in 2006 after they misplaced within the closing to Spain. For this match, something lower than a podium end can be a disappointment for Workforce Hellas they usually have to be surveying their opponents and realise that they’ve an ideal likelihood of going a good distance in China.
Head Coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos has a powerful squad at his disposal, heading right into a run of 9 difficult warm-up video games towards a bunch of fellow nations taking part within the FIBA Basketball World Cup. His eyes needs to be firmly set on a qualifying as on the high of Group F, which might see them doubtless face USA and Brazil within the second spherical, Group K.
The presence of Giannis on this roster, looms as massive as the person himself. Having the reigning MVP and, in all chance, the most effective particular person participant within the match in your crew is a large profit, but it surely additionally raises some massive questions. With Giannis’ success coming in Milwaukee, in a system engineered to suit his recreation, how will Skourtopoulos implement him right into a nationwide facet from which he has been absent for 3 years?
It is an ideal drawback to have and the important thing will probably be in getting his teammates, who maybe are used to bigger roles, to purchase in to becoming in round Antetokounmpo. There are sufficient savvy veterans on this crew to grasp the advantages of aligning themselves to their star participant. And their pickings needs to be wealthy, as opposing groups engineer their complete defensive techniques round stopping Giannis, alternatives will come up for his team-mates.
There are such a lot of qualities that the 24-year-old exudes each on and off the courtroom, which make him the best star to hold a nation’s hopes. Unwilling to dwell on his unimaginable accomplishments to this point, the person affectionately generally known as “The Greek Freak” is about to grow to be the primary ever reigning NBA MVP to function in a FIBA Basketball World Cup and was fast to admit that he “would exchange the MVP title for the gold medal in China”.
Giannis’ NBA performances final season rightly noticed him emerge as a world celebrity and grow to be solely the fifth worldwide participant to be honoured with the league’s Most Priceless Participant award (becoming a member of Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki). In China, we might all bear witness to the worldwide breakout of a star who’s on observe to grow to be one in every of basketball’s all time greats. He is presence alone has the potential to make this World Cup one of the memorable ever.
With Antetokounmpo, Greece look poised for a interval of potential dominance on the worldwide stage. Possibly, come late September, Giannis will probably be buying and selling in that MVP award for the James Naismith trophy in any case…