It was glory for Greece’s under-20s as they defeated Israel to reach the summit of European national basketball at their age group, proving that since the early 1990’s, the country belongs among the most successful teams in almost every age division.
But despite the success on the court, there are many technical fouls that are made when the time to manage these talents comes.
— FIBA #Basketball (@FIBA) July 23, 2017
At first glance we can see that from the Greek roster seven players already play for Greek A1 teams and six of them play at Aris, PAOK, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens. These players play for teams that have a busy calendar considering the fact, especially given that they play in European competitions, in lengthy and demanding seasons, and belong to teams that prefer or benefit from using foreign players in order to be a strong side throughout.
As a result, these players get extremely little playtime, and they even stay out of the reserves too. The only benefit they have is they practice with experienced and skilled players, even basketball personalities they used to admire as youngsters, but even then, the practice does not focus on them and they are rather used to fill up the “practice schedule”.
It certainly is a worrying aspect, and that is made clear through this and the previous generation of champions of Europe, is that the upcoming talents prefer to sign a better contract with Greek giants rather than be patient and discover their full scale potential before reaching top level as complete players three or four years later.
At the age of 20 maximum, the body of the player needs more training, practice and muscle to be able to stand in the court against older, tougher and more experienced players. Also, especially for players who stay inside the paint, learning to “take a beating”, playing with hustle and control their stamina, it demands playing time and experimentation inside the court.
Professional sports demand vast amounts of talented players, overpricing and over-excitement for the potentials of a youngster. Coaches prefer to snatch big contracts earlier for the player, but at this moment, it is probably time for the Greek Basketball Federation and the players themselves to take action and prevent a golden generation to avoid being sidelined and finally reaching hardly the half of its potential.
A more careful treatment can lead to benefits both at national and club level, also totally rearranging the rosters and looks of lower divisions.
Over the last years, the lower tier Greek A2 teams prefer to invest on more expensive but old and experienced players rather than the young and upcoming, leading to developing players being put in the dark in favour of the competitors entering their twilight years.
A serious Federation must be able to avoid mistakes of the past and not repeat unfortunate cases of players of the recent past that followed the same road and now try to make a living with less than half the potential they showed some years earlier in European competitions.
The NBA provides the gateway to those young stars to attempt to realize their potential but the hope is there to continue their journey in Greece.