EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015
|George Dikeoulakos has been named new head coach of Greece on Wednesday |
George Dikeoulakos has been handed the task of getting his native Greece back to the top table of women's basketball, after being installed as head coach.
The play-caller previously worked as an assistant to the senior national team under Kostas Missas, but is now holding the reins with both hands, as Greece try to recover from the disappointment of missing out on EuroBasket Women 2013.
Instead of stepping out in France in coming months, Dikeoulakos will guide his players into the 1st Qualification Round for EuroBasket Women 2015 against Estonia, Luxembourg and Netherlands in Group A – acknowledging it will be something of a new start for the Greeks.
“After the 2010 World Championship, the old generation [of Greek players] successfully finished their cycle in the team, and we must start putting out promising new players,” the new man in charge told FIBA Europe correspondent Paul Nilsen, adding, “I think that a new era starts for the Greek national team where we must "marry" some of the old generation players with the new ones…and wait patiently for the results.”
How many of the “old generation” will be available remains to be seen with the play-caller acknowledging that some players will not be available during the summer.
“I am afraid that [Evanthia] Maltsi will not be on the team any more, sometimes the heart wants but the body denies, and Evina's body pushes her mind that she needs a rest.
“It’s absolutely logical and I support her in her decision, so we are being forced to find many solutions in many problems considering the fact that the injury of Stella Kaltsidou will also keep her away from the team.”
But every cloud has a silver lining, and in the case of Greece, it is an opportunity to create new leaders
“It’s a clear transition period for us. Maybe the most important thing is to create new leaders in the team, leaders on the court and leaders inside the locker room. I have players with big personalities and the only thing that they are waiting for is the trust from my side.”
In addition to his work as an assistant at senior level, Dikeoulakos is now also able to draw upon his experience from being head coach of the Latvian national team which he guided to 8th place at EuroBasket Women 2011.
Now back in Greece, Dikeoulakos points out that there are a number of differences in the mentalities of the players in the two countries.
“In Latvia players quit from the national team before they turn 30 years old, while in Greece they can play with huge passion for that team until they are 35,” whilst another difference is in the passion of the fans: “There is huge love from the fans, especially in Latvia, while in Greece all eyes are on men’s basketball."
More recently, he found success at club level with Fenerbahce who he guided to the EuroLeague Women semi-finals last year, before moving to Romanian side Municipal Targoviste who he led to three wins in the competition before leaving mid-season.
Despite taking on the national team job, Dikeoulakos is keeping his door open to remain coaching at domestic level and is “already in negotiations with some European clubs,” with the Greek job a summer affair.