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Can Sandramanis, Greece 2000 generation prove selves after Euro struggles?
PATRAS (Greece) - Chrysostomos Sandramanis’ career with the Greece youth national teams has seen some pretty disappointing results. The guard hopes to change that trend at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 - with the help of the home fans.
Greece have a history of performing well in front of their home crowds in the U19 World Cup past, winning the title in 1995 in Athens, grabbing third place in 2003 in Thessaloniki and finishing fourth in 2015 in Heraklion - which will be hosting this summer’s U19 global spectacle as well.
Greece fans have helped Hellas to three top-four finishes at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup
- including fourth place in Heraklion in 2015.
"It is very important that we will have our home fans and we should make them happy and proud," Sandramanis said. "We are expecting and we want their support, and I think we will have a little advantage thanks to them."
Greece did not actually qualify for this summer’s U19 World Cup, which runs from June 29-July 7, as Sandramanis and co. finished 14th at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018. Still, the 19-year-old shooting guard said playing on the world stage is crucial.
"It is very important that the country will be playing against the best teams in the world, and we will work hard in order to be competitive," Sandramanis said.
Chrysostomos Sandramanis playing at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018
The 6ft 5in (1.95m) guard will be looking to forget the final result last summer at the U18 continental championship, where Greece finished in the relegation spots though the country will not be dropped to Division B since it had been designated beforehand as the host of the U18 European Championship in 2019.
"Last summer we beat really good teams like Italy and Croatia and we were competitive against Latvia, who reached the Final. But in the final games we lost our concentration and we were disappointed because we lost to France (in the Round of 16) and we did not finish in the top eight places," said Sandramanis, who averaged 14.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in the tournament in Latvia.
Chrysostomos Sandramanis facing France at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016
It was actually the second disappointing showing for Sandramanis and the 2000-born Greece generation, which was relegated at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016.
"Although we started winning two out of three group games (beating Estonia and Serbia), we then lost all of our games and that is a sad moment . But we had a very talented team," said the Alexandroupoli native, who averaged 9.6 points, 2.9 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.7 rebounds in the U16 tournament.
Those poor results will serve as motivation to Sandramanis and his fellow 2000-born players.
"After those tournaments we have more experience. We should learn from our mistakes in order to improve our performance," he said.
Chrysostomos Sandramanis playing for Promitheas Patras in the Basketball Champions League
Sandramanis not only has those national team experiences to learn from as he prepares for the U19 World Cup. He also has made his debut this season at the professional level with Greek top flight side Promitheas Patras. He played in three games in the Basketball Champions League and averaged 1.7 points and 0.3 rebounds in 6.2 minutes to go with 6.3 points, 0.7 assists and 0.3 rebounds in three Greek league games.
"It was a big experience for me and I was really excited," he said about his BCL debut on January 15, 2019 against Besiktas Sompo Japan. "I’m trying to gain experience by learning from my mistakes, and I want to help the team to accomplish its goals and to do the things that coach wants me to do."
Sandramanis is not the only 2000-born Greece leader who has big experience at the club level as Nikos Arsenopoulos gained experience in the Greek top flight with Olympiacos for the second consecutive season.
Greece's 2001-born generation celebrate the country's return to Division A
at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017
Sandramanis and Arsenopoulos will also have help from a strong 2001-born generation, which earned promotion back to the Division A at the U16 European Championship in 2017. Among players from the 2001 group who will likely be heavily relied upon are Nikos Rogkavopoulos of AEK Athens, Aristotelis Sotirious of Panathinaikos and Sandramanis’ Promitheas teammates Rafail Lanaras and Dimitrios Karaiskos.
"There are really talented 2001-born players that they can help the team, and it will be great if some of these players are in the squad," Sandramanis said.
Greece will face a challenge in the U19 World Cup Group Phase as the hosts were drawn into Group C with Argentina, Philippines and Russia.
"IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE WILL HAVE OUR HOME FANS AND WE SHOULD MAKE THEM HAPPY AND PROUD."
"I think all of the teams are good and we can lose or win against any of them. We have to be 100 percent concentrated in every game," Sandramanis said.
When asked about the team’s expectations for the U19 World Cup at home, Sandramanis said: "We should play tough with passion and play each game in order to win while being concentrated on our goals."
The main thing for Greece to be successful is play as a unit.
"We need to play together, to be on the same page and to play as one for each other," he said.
All that to help put past poor performances behind them.