With every member of the Greek National Team still being in shock, following the announcement that the “Greek Freak” will miss the 2017 EuroBasket, head coach, Kostas Missas, should completely change his plans and redistribute the roles, just 10 days before the start of the tournament.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was expected to be Greece’s leader in the upcoming tournament, in their effort to claim their first medal since 2009.
However, a knee injury and Milwaukee Bucks’ intention to protect their franchise player prevented the 22-year-old All-Star from taking part in the EuroBasket.
Consequently, coach Missas has seen his effort to lead the team back to the top of Europe become much more difficult, as most plays revolved around Antetokounmpo’s all-around playing style.
That said, what exactly are basketball fans expecting to see from the 2005 European champions? Undoubtedly, the Greek squad can’t rely on their offensive productivity to prevail over their opponents.
More specifically, their target will be to score 70-75 points per game, with Giorgos Printezis, Kostas Sloukas and Nikos Pappas acting as the main offensive “weapons”.
Printezis’ great post-up game and Pappas’ excellent scoring ability will enable them to execute most plays, while Sloukas will certainly try to score points and dish assists by setting a lot of pick’n’rolls.
In addition, Nick Calathes should improve his three-point percentage, as the opponents’ strategy will focus on preventing him from driving to the basket.
For their part, Olympiacos’ small forwards, Kostas Papanikolaou and Ioannis Papapetrou, will have a more active role in the tactics, due to Antetokounmpo’s absence, and their decent offensive performance will be of utmost importance for the team.
Last but not least, center Giannis Bourousis, in what will probably be his last big tournament with Greece, will take many shots, both from inside the paint and the three-point range, yet it’s doubtful whether he will be an effective rim protector.
The remaining roster (including Giorgos Bogris, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Dimitris Agravanis, Vangelis Mantzaris and Konstantinos Mitoglou) is expected to be given a specific role in the tactics, however only Mantzaris may be able to offer decent solutions, thanks to his consistent three-point percentage.
Coach Missas will also try to make the team’s defensive line tougher and more effective. During most preparation games, Greece played very badly defensively and that should drastically change ahead of the EuroBasket.
Only if the squad concedes 65-70 points per game, then there will be able to win their matches. Otherwise, things will become more difficult.
But, with the roster consisting of players that can be excellent defensively in more than one positions, coach Missas will have no problem to help them be at their very best.
So, the experienced coach needs to make many adjustments on both ends of the floor, if he wants to see Greece become one of the favourites to go all the way to the end.
Because with only half members of the squad being able to make the difference offensively (Pappas, Printezis, Sloukas, Papanikolaou, Papapetrou, Calathes), it’s doubtful whether the Greeks will be ultra-competitive against the top favourites, namely Serbia, Spain, Lithuania and France.
In addition, all the players (except for Giorgos Papagiannis and Bogris) should work on their three-point game, because a decent three-point percentage (around 40%, for instance) will let them have the upper hand over their opponents.
To sum up, is Antetokounmpo’s absence going to affect Greece? Yes, both on and off the court.
However, the squad consists of talented and experienced players and what coach Missas should now do is to fairly distribute the roles and enhance the squad’s chemistry level, making all the players understand that only if they play for one another, they will have the chance to fight for their first gold medal since 2005.
P.S: The situation with the 22-year-old All-Star’s absence from the 2017 EuroBasket almost went out of control, with the majority of Greek fans expressing their opinion via social media.
No matter what happened, though, the way his knee injury was treated by the Federation, the Bucks and the player himself was childish.
First of all, the “Greek Freak” shouldn’t have been available to play. Instead, he should have stayed in Milwaukee to work as hard as he can on his rehabilitation program as well as (on) certain aspects of his game that will enable him to be unstoppable next season.
Regarding his squad, the Bucks should have not allowed him to compete in the 2017 EuroBasket, given they have made him the franchise player and rely on him to lead them to the top of the NBA.
Last but not least, the Greek Basketball Federation should take into account that the team can’t always claim one of the top three spots and the most important thing is to create a competitive roster that will consistently reach the quarter or semi-finals in every competition.
They should also understand that no player is bigger than the team itself and they should always have a plan B, no matter whether their best player is ready to play or not.