Greece coach Rick Pitino says he is planning on trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympics without Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Pitino officially took over as coach of the Greek national basketball team on Monday. He said he would leave a roster place open for Antetokounmpo in qualifying games but is not sure if he will be able to rely on his best player.
Giannis Antetokounmpo soars for a dunk during Greece's victory over New Zealand Thursday in Nanjing, China. The national team had to work hard to beat the Tall Blacks, but did so with a 103-97 score, becoming the last team to make the 16-team field for the second round of the FIBA World Cup. Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks led Greece with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks (center) looks to pass the ball, between Italy's Giampaolo Rice (right) and Paul Biligha, during a game at the Acropolis basketball tournament in the indoor Olympic stadium of Athens on Friday. Greece won the game 83 to 63. [Yorgos Karahalis/AP]
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has said he would swap his NBA most valuable player award for a FIBA Basketball World Cup title.
"I would exchange the MVP title for the gold medal in China," the 24-year-old told the FIBA Basketball website in an interview ahead of the World Cup in China starting August 31.
In hoops, Giannis Antetokounmpo is court royalty. But in baseball, he's a complete rookie. In fact, the 24-year-old from Greece said he'd never even touched a baseball before he did so Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
The reigning NBA MVP was shocked. "It was really heavy," Antetokounmpo told The Associated Press. "I thought it would be lighter."