Harris Stavro was satisfied with the efforts and image of the national team in the match against Team USA and now eagerly awaits tonight’s meeting with Germany Schroeder, Wagner, Tess and … Mr. Obst.
We’ve been looking forward to this match since the day it was announced. Twelve players from the NBA against the national team, a “tough” friendly on their way to the World Cup, a real test that at first seemed like torture, but turned out to be better than we expected.
It took 27 years for Greece to get more than 100 points from the Americans. She has found them against her six times since the friendly in Indianapolis, prior to the Atlanta Olympics and six times she has held them by double figures. The USA team hosted No. 69 in Shenzhen at the 2019 World Cup. This time around, things were different.
A group of players entered the Etihad Stadium trying to create their own identity. A team that doesn’t have a lot of talent, but pushes itself to break through its ceiling no matter what. A well run company that operates in a nice atmosphere and fights. He’s fighting. He does not give up and rushes even where there is a wall.
So did Thomas Walkop, for example, who found an open lane, felt his adrenaline rush, and rose into a dunk like he never took the plunge in his time at Olympiacos, but didn’t realize that the best blocker in the NBA was standing in front of him. Walker Kessler was a freshman last year and played the second half of his five-year season for the Utah Jazz, posted 2.9 blocks per game and will explode in the 2023/24 season. In front of this player, Thomas went to take out the summer stage. And he would do it again if given the chance, because that’s his mentality.
The national team, in honor of its coach and history, did not try to spoil the Americans’ match. He didn’t play … against basketball, but he chased as best he could. Whatever it was, he chased after her. And he chased it as a team and as an individual. Even those on the bench supported, yelled, and cheered as the first quarter unfolded in terrifying fashion.
Panagiotis Kalitzakis, a two-meter goalkeeper with a long arm, pressed, created, scored, placing his body in front of the striker with his palms on the ball. “He played for his bread,” that is, to enter the dozens.
Michalis Lountzis showed once again that he is a different player than the one we saw until June in Olympiacos. He plays with confidence, he’s also a tall, tall keeper, who’ll do a little bit of everything well. And most of all, he will fight.
Nikos Rojavopoulos didn’t shoot, but went for the offensive rebound, he had passion, he had stubbornness, he also had trouble with the referees. It seems that he can become the top scorer of this national team. He is a player who must “go” at any cost.
The national team is trying to win over the players. He doesn’t have “Sloka” or “Dorsey”, he obviously doesn’t have “Antitokonbo” because no other Giannis do, so Etodis has to “build” the players through a process of preparation and friendlies. All 12 people who will travel to Manila must always be ready for childbirth. Everyone will be counted, and since there is no star, the best will play and the best will continue on the ground.
It seems that the night was harsh. Obviously, there were times when the Americans seemed nuclear. But Greece had its moments, too. She took the second quarter and in the last three periods, she was competitive. More than we expected, though, as the USA team played well below its true potential. This does not detract in the least from the effort of the national team, which had the same offensive rebounds (11) and committed three fewer errors (20-17).
Tonight’s match (20:00) against Germany is more important, because Greece will face a team whose players will be targeted. Point guard Dennis Schroeder and junior forward Franz Wagner. Mo Wagner is also good, Tice is also good, Obst-Vogtman is also good, but Itoudis’ mind is on the two athletes with whom it all begins and ends.
And so it should be. The weak national team will face Jordan – New Zealand in the first stage, and in the second it will face Lithuania Prazdikis – Valanciunas and Montenegro Pere – Dubljević – Vucevic. He’ll mostly hit good runs, but tonight he’ll have a good chance to see just how well he can stack up against superstars and scoring forwards like the Orlando Magic player.
Whatever happens, there is plenty of time for MundoBasket to start. And on Sunday, the national team will enjoy its day off, and on Monday it will board the plane to Manila, where it will arrive in the evening. On the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th he will work, to enter the tournament on the 26th with an easy opponent, to gain more time with the match against the USA team on the 28th and to reach the first decisive match against New Zealand on the 30th of August.
As Dimitris Etodis told ACTION24 immediately after the match against the Americans, the important thing is that everyone is healthy. Two children will return to Athens (one short, the other tall), Papanicolaou will return to the dozen and life will go on with a mind not yet in Manila, but in Dennis the Terrible and Mr. Obst who, a year later, unfortunately still hangs around in our mind…
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