Greece hand reins to Vassilis Spanoulis: ''It's a dream come true!''
ATHENS (Greece) - Vassilis Spanoulis left his mark on Greece basketball as a player and he has taken the next step as a coach with the Greek Basketball Federation naming the emerging tactician as the country's new senior national team head coach.
Spanoulis and the federation agreed to a two-year contract on Tuesday to hand the reins to the 41-year-old.
"For me it's a dream moment, a dream come true. When your country calls you, you have to respond and give your all," said Spanoulis. "I want to say a big thank you to my predecessors, most recently Dimitris Itoudis. To those who worked hard to achieve wins for the national team. Those who are here and those who are not, we are supporters of the national team."
"THE WORD HONOR IS NOT ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE WHAT I FEEL." - Vassilis Spanoulis
The FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers in February 2024 will be the first challenge for the newly appointed Hellas coach, followed by the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the summer.
"The word honor is not enough to describe what I feel. The national team is not a club. It is the official darling. It is what inspires people. And that is our goal with the management and all the staff," said Spanoulis, who played in two FIBA World Cups, two Olympics and five EuroBasket tournaments between 2004 and 2015.
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Among those on hand at the announcement were Greek Basketball Federation President Vangelis Liolios; Dimos Dikoudis, administrative manager of the senior Greece national team; and men's national team general manager Nikos Zisis.
"The national team represents all of us, it is above all of us. The most suitable coach for this position is Vassilis Spanoulis. The national team needs to present itself as in the past. I am very happy that this new effort will be led by Vassilis," Liolios said.
"He has always been a soldier of the national team, since yesterday he is a general. What we dream about for the national team, I'm sure we will live with Vassilis."
Dimos Dikoudis, Vangelis Liolios, Vassilis Spanoulis, Nikos Zisis
Spanoulis is currently in his second season as the playcaller for Basketball Champions League side Peristeri bwin Athens - his first coaching job after a wildly successful playing career.
As a star of the national team, Spanoulis guided Greece to second place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006 in Japan as well as the title at the FIBA EuroBasket 2005 - the country’s first continental crown since 1987.
Spanoulis was also on the Greece squad that finished third at the EuroBasket in 2009.
"OUR LEGACY SHOULD BE THAT WE ARE FIGHTERS."
The Larissa native said he wants to make Greek players once again feel the pride and honor of wearing the Hellas national team jersey.
"These examples must be passed on to the next generations," he said. "Our legacy should be that we are fighters, brave and fight for our dreams."
Spanoulis also wants to help the national team players become role models.
"I promise that I will do everything I can to make this team a team, from the first day to the last," said the former playmaker.
Spanoulis captured seven Greek league titles and four Greek Cups with Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus to go along with the 2013 FIBA Intercontinental Cup and three EuroLeague crowns.