Giannis is our new leader, says Vangelis Mantzaris

FIBA
Photo: FIBA

Olympiacos veteran Vangelis Mantzaris has declared that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the new leader of the Greek national team following the international retirement of Vassilis Spanoulis.

It has been two years since Spanoulis announced his curtain call to the hoards of Greek reporters in the media mixed zone at Eurobasket 2015. That was when Antetokounmpo was still fresh faced and finding his feet in the NBA.

The youngster has improved rapidly since then and in a short two-year span has become an All-Star, won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and guided the Milwaukee Bucks to the Playoffs.

EuroLeague
Vangelis Mantzaris believes that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo can help land Greece a medal at this month’s Eurobasket. Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Last season, Antetokounmpo averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists, all vast improvements on his averages the campaign before.

Mantzaris knows that the 22-year-old will be the focal point of the strategies that Greece will implement on the floor to fight for a return to the podium after winning the bronze in Poland at Eurobasket 2009.

“We ain’t going to lie: Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is the star and leader of this team,” Mantzaris said in an interview for Greek newspaper GAVROS.

“He’s an All-Star caliber player, the first Greek who has ever done that. He made us all proud and I wish he continues doing so.

“We’d be fools not to rely on him and his talent. The point is to be able and create these circumstances and situations for Giannis to let his talent unfold on the court.”

Greece is competing in Group A of this summer’s Eurobasket, alongside France, Slovenia, Poland, Iceland and hosts Finland.