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Greece should always play at top level, says Papaloukas fan Grammatikos
ATHENS (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Aggelos Grammatikos grew up idolizing the great Greece point guards like Theo Papaloukas and Dimitrios Diamantidis. Now, the playmaker faces a major task of getting Hellas promoted back to Division A from the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B.
The Greeks have finished on the podium seven times At the FIBA European Championship U16 Division A - including the titles in 1989 and 1993. But this summer will be the first time Greece have ever played in Division B at what was formerly known as cadet level.
"Our aim is certainly to get the promotion to Division A," Grammatikos said.
"(Promotion) is very important, as the Greek national team should always play at the top level."Aggelos Grammatikos
Greece are drawn into Group A of the tournament from August 10-19 in Sofia with Belarus, Belgium, Iceland, Romania and Switzerland with the two top teams from the group advancing to the Quarter-Finals. The top three finishers will move to Division A next summer - exactly where Grammatikos believes his country should be.
"It's very important, as the Greek national team should always play at the top level," said the Athens-native.
Grammatikos is a 6ft 7in (2.00m) point guard and when one thinks about big playmakers from the Greek capital, it's hard not to recall one of the greatest of all time - Papaloukas. The FIBA EuroBasket 2005 champion and FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006 runner-up was a major role model for Grammatikos.
"Our men's national team successes at FIBA EuroBasket and FIBA Basketball World Cup really motivated me to start playing basketball at the age of six - like many other kids in Greece," Grammatikos said. "I followed Papaloukas and Diamantidis, who took the game to the next level."
Grammatikos knows he is still a long way from being close to either of those greats.
"I think this team possesses a great amount of talent but the most important thing is the team chemistry and we will work on this. I am counting down the days to start playing with the national team. It's a huge honor for me."Aggelos Grammatikos
"I think that I have to work even harder and put in much more effort in the gym," Grammatikos said. "I am trying to think before games because this position requires a lot of mental work."
Grammatikos, who plays for the first division club Pomitheas Patras' youth system, believes this Greek U16 team could be very good.
"I think this team possesses a great amount of talent but the most important thing is the team chemistry and we will work on this," said Grammatikos, who will be one of the leaders in Sofia along with Dimitris Karaiskos and Nikos Rogavopoulos. "I am counting down the days to start playing with the national team. It's a huge honor for me."
Greece have a long history in basketball and it will be up to Grammatikos and Co. to keep the stay in FIBA U16 European Championship Division B a one-summer chapter.