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Greek National Basketball Team a Step Closer to Tokyo Olympics

Greece Mens National Team
Greece beat China to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics today. Credit: fiba.basketball

The Greek national basketball team have beaten China and are a step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in men’s basketball. The victory secures second place in Group A for Greece, which advances to the tournament Semi-Finals and will face Turkey on Saturday.

The Greek men faced off against the Chinese and won 105-80. Greece got ahead of China right out of the gate, doubling them in points in the first quarter, which finished up 28-14. They kept their lead for the rest of the night, scoring eleven out of every eighteen shots taken.

Greece’s guard Kostas Sloukas, who has played for the national team for ten years, dominated his fifteen minutes on the court with fourteen points and three assists, but shooting guard Giannoulis Larentzakis came out on top with 21 points scored.

Greece’s national basketball team bounces back

Greece has shown that you can not count them out just yet. After a very narrow 97-91 loss to tournament host, and favorite, Canada, Greece is proving that they are up there with the other international basketball powerhouses, even when missing some of their key players.

Earlier this week their star player Vassilis Spanoulis –,affectionately known as “Kill Bill” – announced he would retire from basketball following an injury.

In an emotional Instagram post, Spanoulis said that it is “time to close the biggest chapter of my life.”

“It was a difficult decision because basketball gave me a unique journey full of intense moments and great emotions. Basketball gave me everything and I gave it everything.

“I leave proud of what was greatly conquered but also of what was lost after a hard battle. Above all, I leave full, because I achieved more than I ever dreamed,” Spanoulis said and signed the emotional post as “The child who dreamt of playing basketball.”

Greece is also playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo — the “Greek Freak” — who is currently playing in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals with his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, which is taking place at the same time as the Olympics Qualifying Tournament.

Antetokounmpo recently suffered a knee injury during a Game Four of the Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Just before the end of the third quarter in the game, Antetokounmpo jumped to defend against a prospective alley-oop from the Hawks’ John Collins to Clint Capela. He landed awkwardly on his left foot, and immediately fell to the court in a visibly agonized state.

After undergoing MRI imaging on his knee it was determined that there was no structural damage to the joint or its nearby ligaments.

The Milwaukee Bucks are also tentative and hopeful about Antetokounmpo’s injury, and were caught off guard by the whirlwind of events leading to his fall yesterday: “We just thought we were going to walk in and win the game,” the Bucks’ forward P.J. Tucker said. “We didn’t do anything to show that we wanted to win this game tonight. We were flat, and our guy’s injury was just another piece of the puzzle to us losing.”

Although Antetokounmpo is not currently playing with Greece, he hopes to join the national team in Tokyo for the Olympics. It was his plan to play with them if they qualified, but now the state of his injury leaves all of his plans in limbo, despite the optimistic prognosis.

 

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