Greece wrapped up their preparations for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, as Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t prevent a loss to Serbia.
As most of the NBA has their focus narrowed in on free agency and the significant roster change that we’re guaranteed to see in the coming days, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has his eyes fixed on a very different prize.
Antetokounmpo is part of the Greek national basketball squad who are hoping to ensure their qualification for the Olympic Games in the coming weeks.
Having failed to automatically qualify for Rio thanks to missing out on a spot in the final at last summer’s Eurobasket, Greece are among the countries with a rich basketball history who have been faced with the prospect of prevailing through a competitive qualifying pool.
Prior to the official qualification games getting underway in Turin, Italy next week, Greece have been playing a series of warm-up games around Europe as preparation.
Two recent meetings with Turkey resulted in comfortable wins for Giannis Antetokounmpo and his fellow countrymen in both Athens and Istanbul, which left the team filled with confidence heading into their final tune-up on Tuesday.
Greece were the visitors to Belgrade to square off with a formidable Serbian squad which included the likes of Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, Brooklyn Nets wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, recent Memphis Grizzlies draft acquisition Rade Zagorac, and former Buck Miroslav Raduljica.
In a high scoring game compared to Greece’s recent outings, Antetokounmpo’s team were outmuscled and outplayed up front, as Serbia’s big men feasted on the Greek defense.
Raduljica finished the game with 14 points, while Jokic finished with 20 points and added in five rebounds for good measure.
As the game progressed foul trouble proved to be a problem for Greece, but Antetokounmpo continued to impress, exerting his influence across the floor.
The Greek Freak finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal, and a couple of his trademark, explosive dunks.
Full highlights below also include some nice glimpses of Giannis passing out of the post to open shooter Nick Calathes, as well as backing down low and establishing position to score for himself.
Serbia will now focus their attention towards their own qualification bid, although they have the luxury and distinct advantage of having their qualifying tournament on home soil in Belgrade.
For Antetokounmpo and Greece, the next action for them will be an all-important Group A opener in Turin against Iran, which will be followed by a two day turnaround until their clash with Mexico.
Greece are back in action on July 4 as the stakes get raised significantly.