Greece’s hopes of landing basketball’s World Cup took a major blow on Friday when their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo announced he will miss the tournament.
Antetokounmpo underwent knee surgery at the beginning of July and has been absent from Greece’s preparations for the tournament.
“Since the conclusion of my NBA season I have been pushing my body to the limits to be the player I need to be to help our team achieve the goals we set,” the 28-year-old Milwaukee Bucks star wrote on social media.
“After months of work and multiple meetings with medical staff it is clear that I am not ready to compete in the level that I need to be to participate in the World Cup.
“This was not a choice but my only option in ensuring I get back to the level of basketball I have worked so hard to achieve so far in my career.
“I am extremely disappointed in this outcome.”
The seven-foot tall (2.13m) small forward began his career with Filathlitikos before a dream move to the NBA with the Bucks in 2013.
In his social media post, Antetokounmpo underlined his commitment to the Greek team and cast forward to next year’s Paris Olympics.
“Everyone knows my passion and love for my national team has and never will change,” he said.
“My personal, and our ultimate team goal is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics Games and it will be an honor to represent my national team next year.”
Without their star player, Greece lost their last two warm-up games against Serbia (64-71) and Italy (70-74) as part of the Acropolis Tournament.
The World Cup will be played in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, starting on August 25.
Greece, led by Dimitris Itoudis, begin their campaign against Jordan a day later in Group C which also contains the USA and New Zealand.
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