By Stavros Barbarousis / email@example.com
The FIBA World Cup is filled with amazing storylines and the Georgian National Team making it to the Top 16 teams of the world is one of them.
On their maiden trip to a FIBA World Cup, the Georgians made history with Greek coach Ilias Zouros taking over the project seven years ago and finally delivering.
The Greek coach spoke to Eurohoops about the historic achievement of a small country, which, thanks to him, the rest of the coaching staff, and of course, a generation of great players is establishing itself as a competitive power in world basketball.
“I am very happy that a consistent effort that started seven years ago is reaching its peak with the greatest success in the history of Georgian basketball”, coach Zouros said from Japan.
“It is a fantastic experience, with a team that we have been like a family for seven years. We have laid solid foundations for the future as well and this is proven by our constant presence in major events. Something that had never happened in the past for this country”.
It was a very emotional moment, with the Minister of Sports Thea Tsulukiani and the president of the basketball federation, former player Viktor Sanikitze, visiting the locker room, celebrating with the team, some crying and singing the Georgia national anthem, ecstatic about their basketball achievement.
Of course, it takes a village in order to achieve something like that and coach Zouros didn’t want to forget anyone starting of course with a Georgian basketball icon Toko Shengelia: “I want to congratulate my assistants and of course the captain of the team, Toko Shengelia, a patriot who gives his soul for his teammates and for us. He is our leader by nature and by attitude on and off the field. He deserves to enjoy these moments with his national team”.
Τοκο is not alone on this: “Sermantini and Tsintzadze’s self-sacrifice is also admirable, they are pillars of this team. Goga Bitatze, the future of the team, is playing with a serious injury. He leads the way by example. And Sandro Mamukelasvili is the continuation of what we are creating”.
With Georgia in the second phase preparing to face Australia and Germany, Zouros and his players want to enjoy the experience and hope for the best: “Let’s go fight against two teams that are aiming for medals. We will give everything against them to achieve a miracle”.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIBA