Greece fought off a tough challenge against Belgium on November 14th, qualifying to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a 72-70 victory.
Following a 20-point home loss against Latvia on November 11th, the only result desired by the Greek national team was a win in order to advance to the finals of the global tournament.
Hundreds of Greek fans from around the world traveled to support the team, giving them an extra boost of confidence as this was a now or never chance to proceed to the next round.
Greece 2023 Basketball World Cup remaining games
There are two remaining games against Serbia and Latvia on February 24th and on the 27th. However, this will have no bearing on Greece’s future.
The finals are taking place from August 25th to September 10th in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia while the draw for the finals is scheduled for March.
FIBA’s Twitter post with an Acropolis backdrop
To celebrate Greece’s victory in the 2023 Basketball World Cup, FIBA posted a picture of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Georgios Papagiannis, and Kostas Sloukas. The image featured a backdrop of the Acropolis with three of the national team’s greatest players. The Twitter post read, “HELLAS ARE WORLD CUP BOUND.”
— FIBA Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) November 14, 2022
1987: When Greece fell in love with basketball
Up until 1987, basketball in Greece was as mediocre as Greek soccer usually is at a European level. Yet, on June 14, 1987, something miraculous happened, and Greeks began a love affair with the orange ball which has yet to cool down.
It was the 1987 FIBA European Championship and Greece had made it to the final. This was a time when the first Greek basketball legends were born—the ones who inspired the next generations and who first put Greece into a prominent place on the basketball map.
It was also the time of Nikos Galis, Panagiotis Giannakis, Panagiotis Fassoulas, Fanis Christodoulou, and Memos Ioannou, names that became familiar to most Greeks. Their posters decorated the bedrooms of many a teenager.
After eliminating Italy and Yugoslavia, both favorites to win the tournament, in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, Greece came upon Russia in the final. It was a time when the countries of the Soviet Bloc had some of the strongest national teams in just about any popular sport.
The game, held at the newly-built “Peace and Friendship Stadium,” was a nail biter with the buzzer finding the two teams tied with a score of 89-89. In overtime, the blue and white players managed to win 103-101, sending millions of Greeks across the globe into ecstasy. Galis scored an unbelievable forty points.
Hundreds of thousands—maybe even millions—of Greeks took to the streets all across the country waving the “Blue and White” in a frenzy of singing and wild celebration. The joy was so overwhelming that outsiders would have thought that Greeks were celebrating the end of a victorious war.