By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
In just a few months as a coach of Panathinaikos, Rick Pitino gained a cult following in Greece, and today his name made headlines in the country – and even there’s a tweet about him by Lithuanian reporter Donatas Urbonas – as a potential target of the Greek basketball federation for the head coach position of the Greek national team.
Pitino, who amicably left Greece and Panathinaikos, might be a candidate for the job. However, things are not that simple. The Greek national team will have to compete in the Eurobasket qualifiers in February, and coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos will remain on his bench for those games.
To be exact, Skourtopoulos is expected to stay in some capacity in the Greek national team coaching staff and act as the head coach in the qualifying games.
According to the current plan, the new head coach will be hired for the major FIBA tournaments, which, in Greece’s case, also include the pre-Olympic tournament. After all, Greece is willing to host one of the four pre-Olympic tournaments.
This is practically the US federation formula, with Jeff Van Gundy coaching in the qualifiers and Gregg Popovich in the major tournaments.
While Pitino is quite an interesting prospect, the Greek federation would prefer for various reasons a Greek coach for the job, even if Pitino is a living legend. That’s why the possibilities include all the top Greek coaches, which are the currently unemployed Giorgos Bartzokas, a former EuroLeague champion with Olympiacos and also former Barcelona coach, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv’s Giannis Sfairopoulos who led Olympiacos to two EuroLeague finals and also the two-time EuroLeague winner and defending champion with CSKA Moscow, Dimitris Itoudis.
Coach Argiris Pedoulakis could also be in this list, but he is currently the head coach of Panathinaikos and that makes it impossible for him to be also the Greek national team coach.