Although Kostas Missas was appointed as the team’s new head coach a few days ago, it’s more than obvious that the Greek Basketball Federation has no specific and effective plan to help the squad return to the top of Europe.
11 months ago, when Greece failed to advance to the 2016 Olympic Tournament, Giorgos Vassilakopoulos, the Federation’s president, relieved former head coach, Fotis Katsikaris, of his duties.
Therefore, the executives had to find a suitable replacement, yet the whole procedure was a joke.
The Federation couldn’t agree on who Katsikaris’ successor would be, while the top Greek coaches (Giannis Sfairopoulos, Dimitris Itoudis, Giorgos Bartzokas) rejected Vassilakopoulos’ offers.
Consequently, they spent 10 months in order to announce that Missas is taking over, with less than 60 days before the beginning of the 2017 Eurobasket.
The most ridiculous thing in that situation, though, was the fact that Vassilakopoulos stated there is no need for a coach to be appointed, since what really matters is the players that will take part in the competition.
However, the truth is that the presence of the coach defines whether a team can reach the top or not, since each squad (Spain, France, Serbia, for example) has its own playing style that is based on the respective coach’s specific tactical approach.
That said, is Missas capable of creating a plan that will enable the Greek National Team to fight for a spot in (at least) the semi-finals?
So far, the side’s roster is consisted of versatile players that can offer decent solutions in more than one positions on the floor, especially defensively, while they can be equally productive offensively.
More specifically, the Greek coach is expecting from Nick Calathes, Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo as well as Vaggelis Mantzaris and Giorgos Printezis to play tough defence and grab the rebounds in order to score points in transition.
That said, I think Greece will be able to prevent their opponents from scoring more than 70 points per game and their solid defensive performance will be their key element in the tournament.
However, they will probably face many problems on the other end of the floor. Although most of the players are very talented and can score points in many ways, they also have certain disadvantages.
For instance, apart from Tyler Dorsey and Kostas Sloukas, no other member of the team can shoot the ball very well from the three-point range, while only Printezis and Stratos Perperoglou (if he is available to play) have a great post-up game.
Moreover, even though the squad’s point and shooting guards can easily create pick’n’roll situations, the front-line can’t be dominant inside the paint.
Therefore, I think the only way for Greece to hide its offensive weaknesses is to impose a run and gun playing style so as to create as many fast breaks as they can.
In order to achieve that, though, they need to control the tempo and grab the rebounds so as to be able to score in transition.
Overall, I believe that the whole procedure, regarding the head coach, simply didn’t make sense and I can’t understand why the Federation spent almost a year to appoint Katsikaris’ successor.
Furthermore, it’s doubtful whether the experienced coach will retain his place in the team after the end of the tournament, with FIBA having announced a series of preliminary matches in November and February.
Consequently, in case Missas leaves the team in September, Vassilakopoulos and the Federation will have to hire a new coach, a situation that shows the lack of a long-term and productive plan that will enable Greece to return to the top.
To sum up, I don’t think the new head coach will have the time to make many changes to the squad’s tactics and playing style, so he will probably focus on creating certain offensive and defensive plays as well enhancing the team’s level of chemistry.
Because, in the end, Greece will need to overcome the odds in order to eliminate some of the favourites to win the title (Spain, France, Serbia) so as to go all the way to the end.
P.S: Vassilakopoulos’ actions simply don’t make any sense. It seems as though the Federation’s president has made all the wrong decisions since the 2009 Eurobasket, where Greece finished third.
So, my thought is that he has to retire and be replaced by a younger executive, who will have new and fresh ideas that will improve Greek Basketball and the Federation itself.
Because, in the end, everybody (players, clubs, fans) wants things to change in the Federation, but nobody does something about that and, consequently, the situation remains the same.