Credit: InTime/Hellenic BF
Credit InTime/Hellenic BF

Greece national team had their first gathering ahead of the upcoming EuroBasket, with coach Dimitris Itoudis and his assistants welcoming the players at the OAKA arena.

Of the 23 players who were called up, 19 were present in this first meeting. The four absentees were Nick Calathes, who is expected in Athens on Tuesday, and the three NBA players (Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Tyler Dorsey of the Dallas Mavericks), who will all join practices on Thursday, August 4, just 28 days before the EuroBasket tips off, in line with the agreement signed between FIBA and the NBA. 

However, Greece's camp is dealing with some injury issues right from the start. As Dimitris Itoudis said after the first meeting, guard Lefteris Bochoridis "has started to feel better," while center Giorgos Papagiannis "will not be able to participate for a few days in contact training and we will wait for the development of his recovery to see when it will be safer for him to be with us".

"Everyone has dreams, especially in sports," Itoudis commented. "The main thing for us is to become a team. We can't talk about anything else if we don't see the team in practice, if we don't see a group breathing together and having the same ambitions.

The time we have at our disposal is short, but we tried to give several days of rest to the players. Since the preparation time is less than what happens at a collective level, the responsibility we all have is not to waste a second and to make the most of every moment of preparation."

Itoudis talked about Greece's first two games, against Spain at home (OAKA) and away (Madrid) on August 9 and 11, respectively. 

"The first two friendlies and some scrimmages that we will do under game conditions between us will help us get out of the routine a bit. We will have 5-6 training sessions with contact before the friendly with Spain and they will give us a first picture of where we are.

The first two games are very important, but we will also use them in our preparation for EuroBasket," Fenerbahce Beko's play-caller said. 

Greece will be hosting the Acropolis Tournament between August 17 and 19, before embarking on the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers facing Serbia on the 25th and Belgium on the 28th. With the exception of that trip to Spain, the athletes and staff will be staying in Athens until the outing in Belgrade. 

Itoudis says he's not keen on uttering big words and expressing great expectations until the players become a solid team that can produce results. 

"The fans are an important part of the effort. I believe that they will be next to us in the games we will give to OAKA and will welcome the athletes with encouragement. From me, you will not hear anything about results before the effort has even begun and we see something tangible. I have to get to know the players and they get to know me."

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