While Greece was not the opponent, Greece was the venue for one of Team USA’s most infamous losses, a defeat in the semifinals at the 2004 Summer Olympics. That’s the game that led to the creation of the famous “Redeem Team” four years later.
Now, the Greeks have a chance to stand in Team USA’s way in a more direct position. That’s all due to the man whose nickname incorporates his nationality: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know of the greatness that is the Greek Freak. He is already one of the best international players in NBA history, winner of two MVP awards and one NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
During the most recent World Cup, Antetokounmpo and the Greeks were disappointed. He averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.4 steals per game and the team finished 11th in the field.
He and his nation fared better during EuroBasket 2022. Greece was still eliminated in the quarterfinals, but Antetokounmpo dominated and finished as the tournament’s leading scorer, despite the early elimination. His team goes as he goes.
All that being said, Antetokounmpo his recovering from knee surgery and may not be available to Greece in the competition. If he’s out, Greece could probably be removed from this list altogether. It’s something to keep an eye on.
This is isn’t to say Greece is without talent – there are two more Antetokounmpo brothers on this roster! Kostas Papanikolaou is also an important veteran, a forward who popped up briefly in the NBA and has been with Olympiacos for years.
Greece will get its first crack at the United States on Aug. 28, as they’re in the same group. They have the fortune of also being in a group with New Zealand and Jordan, so the Greeks should get another crack in the knockout stage if they can slide into second place in the group standings.