By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been a full decade since Kostas Papanikolaou, Evangelos Mantzaris and Kostas Sloukas represented Greece in the 2009 U19 World Championshp. The three players part of their country’s 2019 FIBA World Cup squad proudly remembered their first call-up in junior national team level and the way the worked their way up the ladder, FIBA relays.
“I was one of the lucky guys who had the chance to live great moments with the national team, especially with the youth” Papanikolaou recalled. “I won a couple of medals, but the most important thing is that 10 years ago in New Zealand we finished second. Hopefully this tournament will be a good anniversary for us to do something special 10 years later.”
He added: “I know it might sounds cliche, but we are like a real family. I truly mean it. Anyone can see our interaction on and off the court. Even without cameras on, we have fun together. And that helps us to bring the best of ourselves. I am lucky and am proud to be part of this group of players.”
“I will never forget the first time I heard the national anthem wearing this jersey” Mantzaris confessed. “Being through all the youth teams helped me feel the honor and wait every time for the opportunity.”
“Getting invited to the youth national teams is something that you never forget in your career because for many young players that is the first dream you can have. It’s the first sign that you can go on and have expectations” he furthered.
“It was the first reward” said Sloukas on getting the youth team call. “It encouraged me to keep working hard. It encouraged me to one day be in the position of my childhood idols. No matter how far you can go as a professional player, the moments you spend playing for your national team will always have a special place in your memory books.”
“We are three guys here” Papanikolaou rounded up referring to the Greek national team experience he shares with his two teammates and the World Cup in progress. “Hopefully god will help us and something good will happen this year.”