Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I didn’t want to leave the national team practices crying”

2024-02-21T19:26:24+00:00 2024-02-21T19:40:48+00:00.

Aris Barkas

21/Feb/24 19:26

Giannis Antetokounmpo in an in-depth confession on COSMOTE TV explained why he missed the FIBA World Cup and how much he wants to play for the national team this summer

By Eurohoops team/

Giannis Antetokounmpo opened his heart on the sidelines of the recent NBA All-Star Game about what happened last summer with the Greek national team and left no room for doubt.

“I hurt more than everyone out there that I couldn’t be with the national team,” he told to COSMOTE TV, the Greek NBA right holders, and explained his situation which is strictly related to his knee condition: “I had one more reason to be there, my brothers were there, Thanasis and Kostas, but I didn’t want to go and leave the gym crying. Not just having bad feelings, I could have those at home, I mean cry. Really cry.”

Regarding his absence from every event connected to the national team, even from the retirement of Greek Hall of Famer Nikos Galis’ jersey, Giannis added: “I was not in Greece and I couldn’t be present for Mr. Nikos, otherwise I would have been the first to go to the stadium and I hope he can come when my own jersey is retired. For not being with the team, why should I go there and be seen by 15 cameras? Just to say I supported the team? I am not that person and I’ll never be. My teammates came to my house and we met, it got out, I never said it myself publicly.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo reiterated that he wants to play in the Olympic qualifiers, even if he can’t commit now: “I can’t help but think about today. Like I’ve said many times, if I’m healthy, I’ll be there. Last summer I wasn’t healthy and I never want to come out and talk about something like that. Anyone who think he is hurt more than me, that I wasn’t there to help my teammates, my brothers, that I didn’t feel again the emotion that we had at the EuroBasket when everyone embraced in the country the sport, he doesn’t know me at all.”

Especially about  the new national team coach and EuroLeague icon Vassilis Spanoulis, Giannis said: “He had told me something when we met in practice and after six months I won the championship. The fact that such a personality comes to the national team is great although (ed.note: former coach) Dimitris Itoudis was an excellent coach and my cooperation with him was amazing, I wish I was in the FIBA World Cup with him. But Spanoulis was the idol for all of us who are now in the national team and I wish we could do something more. Guys like Toliopoulos, like the next players who will come to help, I really want that we all win something big together. And for Vassilis, I have told him that I will have more children than him, unless he intends to have a seventh child.”

Finally speaking about the Bucks, he added that this is a difficult season also on a personal level after the Lillard – Holiday trade: “It’s a tough season, we changed four coaches in six months, it’s tough. We traded Jrue Holiday, I won’t say I didn’t like it because Damien Lillard is now my teammate and with him we’re going to win the championship, but my best friend leaving, who was living two minutes away from me, is tough. We won the championship and we cried together. That part is hard, but the NBA is a business, we all understand that there are trades.”