Giannis Antetokounmpo: “We are not yet ready for a medal, but we have our chances”

By Achilleas Mavrodontis/ [email protected]

Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA champion and an NBA MVP, but his quest for greatness will not be completed with a medal with the Greek national team.

And while he is eager to win big, he compared the quest of two-time European champion Greece to win big with the way the Bucks got their NBA title.

“Judging from yesterday’s practice, we are not yet ready for a medal, but we have our chances”, said Giannis while talking to the media on the media day of the Greek national team.  “It doesn’t matter what the world expects, it’s what the team expects. In all the competitions I’ve been to with Greece, we didn’t even reach the quarterfinals. We’re not ready for medals or cups. We need to create chemistry and the right atmosphere. Let’s go and do our best. I have realistic goals, I need to get better. We have three weeks to bond. I will adapt to what the national team needs from me and not the opposite. Our coach (Dimitris Itoudis) is doing an amazing job and we have to do the best we can”.

So is this finally the year of Greece’s big return to the medal round? “And why wasn’t a medal possible in the previous times and is it now? We can’t talk for a medal, that’s what we always do and we fall short. We have to achieve something before Calathes, Sloukas, and Papanikolaou leave the team. I didn’t win a championship with the Bucks because I was thinking about the NBA title. Step by step, we have to get better.”

Giannis has the chance to practice in the Greek national team training camp together with his three brothers, Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex for the first time.

With Thanasis and Kostas also expected to make the final roster, Giannis talked about what this means for him: “It’s a dream come true. We’ve been saying that one day we’ll achieve this. It makes us proud to guard each other in the practice of the national team proud. Our mother can’t wait to come to the games. But when they enter the court, they are my teammates, not my brothers.”

Coach Itoudis, a two-time EuroLeague champion, echoed Giannis’ mentality about the expectations from the team: “We are not ready yet. We are in the process of getting ready. We are not yet a team. The players don’t know me and I don’t know them. We are still missing George Papagiannis who is not practicing. We have very little time and we have to take advantage of each second. Speaking about medals now is just a dream. We must be here even if it hurts, or if there’s any problem. That’s what we can promise”.

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