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Giannis Antetokounmpo “Hoping to Play for Greece” in the Tokyo Olympics

Credit: Keith Allison, CC 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Giannis Antetokounmpo is hoping to represent Greece in the upcoming Olympic Games, his agent said on Friday, hours before the Greek Freak led the Milwaukee Bucks to series-levelling win against Atlanta.

“His goal is to be at Tokyo,” Giorgos Panou, his long-time agent mentioned in an interview to Greek public television, “Whenever he can be available and healthy, he will play for the National Team.”

Greece holds a chance to book the trip to Tokyo through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, Canada. The top-ranking country out of the six-team tournament will complete Group A of the Olympic tournament preliminary round with the USA, France, and Iran waiting for their third opponent.

Greece needs to overcome Canada and China in a qualifying tournament starting on June 29 in Victoria, in order to qualify for the Olympics.

Antetokounmpo’s love for Greece

Born in Greece to Nigerian parents, Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens.

In 2011, he began playing for the club’s senior team before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. Antetokounmpo’s nationality, in addition to his combination of size, speed and ball-handling skills earned him the nickname “Greek Freak”.

In 2019, he had said that he would give up his NBA MVP award if Greece could win gold at the FIBA Basketball World Cup that took place in China.

In the same year he made all of Greece proud by flashing the inside lining of his suit jacket after being named MVP of the 2018-19 NBA season during the league’s awards show.

The “Greek Freak” had a depiction of the Parthenon on the lining of his trendy navy blue jacket. He proudly posed for the cameras to show the historic monument of Athens, the great city in which he was born and grew up.

Antetokounmpo Greece
The famous photo of Antetokounmpo with the Parthenon inside his jacket. Credit: Instagram/Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo, 26, with the Bucks currently locked in the NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals best-of-seven series against the Atlanta Hawks, has been ruled out of the OQT. Fellow Buck, Thanasis Antetokounmpo is also out. However, Kostas Antetokounmpo has been named to the squad by Rick Pitino.

The Greek Freak, meanwhile, scored 25 points and the Milwaukee Bucks blew out the Atlanta Hawks 125-91 on Friday night to even the Eastern Conference finals at a game apiece.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, with 22 points, combined to make 20 of 32 shots from the floor before sitting out the fourth quarter.

The Bucks never trailed, scored 20 straight points late in the second quarter and led by at least 30 throughout the second half.

“We came in focused on each possession at a time in Game 2, and we were able to do it together as a team,” Antetokounmpo said.

The series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Sunday.

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