Dimitris Itoudis wasn't sure whether six closely involved Milwaukee Bucks staff member managing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Greek NT is the right thing in national teams basketball.

A unique opportunity to manage one of the best players in the world, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was a huge learning experience for the Greek national team head coach Dimitris Itoudis. But it also left some question marks for future cooperation.

Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Position: SG
Age: 23
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 104 kg
Birth place: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Former back-to-back NBA MVP averaged 29.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists under Itoudis. But Giannis team was stopped by Germany in the quarterfinals 96-107.

"You need to make certain adjustments in strategy, spacing, and how your opponents play and build the wall in Europe without a three-second violation. It's more an adjustment for Giannis because he plays a lot from his instincts," Itoudis explained his first coaching experience building a team around Antetokounmpo.

"There's a lot of development there to happen. He needs to evolve his game in the European scene, working with certain adjustments that other teams are doing because of the characteristics, skills, advantages, and disadvantages he might have in his game. He is open to discussing and discovering new ways to help the team and his teammates, which makes him very important to the team and chemistry," he continued in an interview with BasketNews.

"But regarding cooperation, I would say it was very smooth. Giannis wants to be coached. It starts with his humbleness. He has both his feet on the ground. He has a lot to grow as a player, and he knows that. The fact is that he likes the sport, and he's a living example. In that term, it was easy," the coach emphasized.

He had several opportunities to talk to Giannis personally at dinners or individual conversations.

Itoudis was fascinated by how hungry Giannis was about bringing a medal to his home country.

"He's getting more mature. He went through many punches in the European scene and grew up as one of the best, if not the best, in the world. Won the championship and many individual titles. The only title he didn't win is this. Medal and title with the national team," Itoudis told BasketNews. "And I wish him that whether I'm the coach or there is any other coach, they will help the Greek national team, Giannis, and other players to win."

"It was smooth, normal. But at the same time, very interesting," Itoudis concluded their cooperation.

This experience was also exceptional from a team management standpoint.

The Milwaukee Bucks sent six people to follow Giannis on his national team campaign.

However, Itoudis indirectly questioned the involvement of the NBA clubs in national teams.

"In the aspect of approaching and working with the player that is an asset for the NBA team, it's different. I had to work with six people from the Bucks daily on how Giannis must be treated in load management, the pain he may have, and other things.

It's not as it is with European players. Maybe we will come to the point where Olympiacos will say, 'Let's manage Sloukas this way.' Maybe Partizan says, 'Let's manage Papapetrou this way.' Or Fener will come and say, 'Manage Calathes this way," Itoudis hinted.

When asked whether that's a good or bad thing for national team basketball, Itoudis left question marks.

"I don't know, I leave it to you, FIBA, and everybody to think," Itoudis responded.

According to BasketNews sources, the Bucks were in ongoing contact with the Greek basketball federation on Giannis' availability for games and playing time in the preparation stage.

Credit FIBA

Neither Giannis, Luka Doncic, nor Nikola Jokic managed to guide their teams to the EuroBasket podium.

When Itoudis was repeatedly asked in the EuroBasket about favorites going down in the clutch stages of the playoffs, the two-time EuroLeague champion often got irritated.

Itoudis never understood why people saw Greece among the Top 3 favorites to win the EuroBasket.

"They also had some NBA players," Itoudis smiled, ironically, talking about Germany. "I'm not saying I'm happy we lost. But we weren't playing there alone. Neither Serbia nor Lithuania."

"You're making the favorites, but how can one team be a favorite if, until the third game of the first round, we had two players sidelined and decided to go with them because we were not privileged enough as Lithuania or France to choose from six bigs and maybe five guards?" Itoudis addressed injury woes that followed the Greek NT. "We were limited, so we were carrying hypothetical players that may come back according to medical expectations. Thank god, Papagianis was good and started performing. Antetokounmpo also started to perform but was not at his best."

"We did our effort out there. It didn't work in this third quarter, which was catastrophic for us. But that's the beauty of the game. I went out there, and I took responsibility. That's the competition. You're playing one game, so this one day that Germany has had extra, it worked," Itoudis recalled the loss to Germany.

"You know that Germany had one more day to rest?" Itoudis continued. "So for Franz Wagner, who had rest after an injury, this extra day helped. And it's good it helped. Great players need to play. But we had one day less. That also matters. But that's the competition. Tomorrow Greece will have an extra day, and Germany won't. But those are facts."

In Itoudis' eyes, the significance of star players is slightly exaggerated in national team basketball.

"It's not about one player. Never one player had won something," Itoudis commented on the general view that Giannis was a medal lock by many people. "He needs Sloukas and Papagiannis. He needs his brothers. Actually, they are all his brothers on the national team."

"Everybody recognizes his unique talent and ways of scoring the ball and creating for others. He is the best in the world. But all the best in the world, they need a job that needs to be done. For example, Lountzis pressured the ball, stealing a couple of balls and sacrificing his body."

Video interview with Dimitris Itoudis:

The entire conversation with Dimitris Itoudis in audio:

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