Greek national basketball team draw closer to Tokyo Olympics
The Greek national basketball team have beaten China and are close to qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in men’s basketball. The victory secures second place in Group A for Greece, who advance to the semi-finals of the tournament and face Turkey on Saturday.
The Greek men faced the Chinese and won 105-80. Greece edged out China from the start, doubling them in points in the first quarter, which finished in 28-14. They held onto their lead for the rest of the night, scoring eleven of eighteen shots.
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Greek goalkeeper Kostas Sloukas, who played for the national team for ten years, dominated his fifteen minutes on the pitch with fourteen points and three assists, but shooter Giannoulis Larentzakis came out on top with 21 points scored.
Greece’s national basketball team bounces back
Greece has shown that you cannot count them yet. After a very close 97-91 loss to tournament hosts and favorites Canada, Greece are proving they are on par with other international basketball powers, 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 injury.
In a moving Instagram post, Spanoulis said it was “time to close the biggest chapter of my life.”
âIt 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.
âI am leaving proud of what has been largely conquered but also of what was lost after a hard battle. Mostly, I’m leaving full, because I’ve achieved more than I’ve ever dreamed of, âSpanoulis said and signed the emotional post asâ The kid who dreamed of playing basketball â.
Greece are also playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo – the “Greek Freak” – who is currently playing the NBA Eastern Conference Finals with his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, which is being held concurrently with the Olympic qualifying tournament.
Antetokounmpo recently suffered a knee injury in Game 4 of the Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Just before the end of the third quarter of the game, Antetokounmpo jumped in to defend against a possible alley-oop from John Collins of the Hawks to Clint Capela. He landed awkwardly on his left foot and immediately fell to the court in a visibly dying state.
After undergoing an MRI scan on his knee, it was determined that there was no structural damage to the joints or ligaments.
The Milwaukee Bucks are also hesitant and hopeful about Antetokounmpo’s injury, and were caught off guard by the whirlwind of events that led to his downfall yesterday: âWe just thought we were going to come in and win the match, âBucks forward PJ Tucker mentioned. âWe 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 we lost. “
Although Antetokounmpo does not currently play for 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 his injury condition leaves all of his plans in limbo, despite the optimistic prognosis.