By John Askounis/ email@example.com
Rick Pitino confirmed he will be Greece’s head coach in next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament following a meeting with the president of the Greek Basketball Federation George Vassilakopoulos on Friday. “I am the coach” he proclaimed. He previously stated that he’s willing to coach Greece for free upon returning to the country after his stint with Panathinaikos OPAP.
“We are going to discuss the logistics on Monday, but obviously it is a great honor for me to accept this position” the 67-year-old American explained, “I’ll spend most of the winter once the brackets are announced, studying the film and going to work.”
The official announcement is expected next week, but Pitino will guide Greece in the Olympic qualifying tournament hoping to punch a ticket for the Olympic Games set to take place in Tokyo later in the summer. Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Japan, Nigeria, Spain, and USA are already in, the other four national teams will be determined from the four qualifying tournaments.
Thanasis Skourtopoulos will remain Greece’s bench for the preceding EuroBasket 2021 qualifiers. The 54-year-old Greek head coach took over the senior team in October 2017, went through the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers and led his country in the World Cup itself last summer.
He is also expected to remain part of Rick Pitino’s staff in the major tournaments. The next big question for the Greek national team for the upcoming pre-Olympic tournament is if Giannis Antetokounmpo will be available and that’s a big “if”, since the qualifying games will be played on the 23rd of June, just a few days after the end of the NBA season.
Pitino has already said during his arrival in Athens that he is expected to meet with Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo in Miami near the end of the NBA regular season in March.