Giannis: 'We need to get better step by step - that's the process'
ATHENS (Greece) - Giannis Antetokounmpo has heeded caution about Greece's medal hopes at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 and believes they need to take things one step at a time.
The former two-time NBA MVP has joined up with his teammates for training camp ahead of Europe's flagship event as well as the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.
The addition of Antetokounmpo makes Greece one of the strong candidates to make it onto the EuroBasket podium, but the 27-year-old states the team have been stung before by high expectations.
"RIGHT NOW, WE ARE NOT READY FOR MEDALS."
"It doesn't matter what people expect, but what the coach and the team expect, because we are the ones playing on the court," he told media reporters. "We still haven't made it to the Quarter-Finals in any of the competitions I've played [with the national team]. So this would be a step for us.
"Right now, we are not ready for medals, we need to bond as a team, create team chemistry. We have to set goals that are realistic, that's how I am as a person. I don't think that I'm going to win titles."
Antetokounmpo is all too familiar of the process it takes to win big titles after winning the NBA title with Milwaukee Bucks in his eighth season in the league; taking on the mantle of the franchise player.
The 'Greek Freak' made a debut at EuroBasket in 2015 before missing out on the tournament two years later with his last action for the national team coming at the World Cup in 2019 and wants to see the team get stronger together.
"We can't think about a medal, that's what we always do and we end up falling on our faces. We have to achieve something before Calathes, Sloukas, Papanikolaou retire. But I didn't win an NBA championship because I thought I would win the NBA title. We need to get better step by step, that's the process."
All eyes on the best basketball player on the world. Giannis Antetokounmpo started practicing with the Greek National Team ahead of the EuroBasket 2022. pic.twitter.com/vapKt1Brrj— Harris Stavrou (@harris_stavrou) August 4, 2022
Regardless of expectations, there is no doubting the lengths that Giannis will go to try to win with the national team.
"I will do whatever is asked of me, I will play at the 5, I will even play at the 6 and the 7. In the practice session [Friday] I didn't think we are a medal team. However, we have the opportunity, if we listen to our coach, if we work properly, to become that. It's hard, but I have to have realistic goals. I am humble.
There is already a family feel within the team as the Antetokounmpo brothers quartet with Giannis getting to share the court again with Alex, Kostas and Thanasis as they get ready as part of the training camp roster.
"I feel proud," he stated. "It's a great feeling to play alongside my brothers on the national team. I'm happy, a dream that has come true, we've been talking about this ever since we were little. To practice together, to guard each other, to play with Kostas, to play with Alex. We are very happy that this has come to pass, our mother is proud and she can't wait to come to the games."
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Greece head to Milan for the Group Phase at EuroBasket, but first take on Serbia and Belgium in the World Cup Qualifiers at the end of this month.