By Daniel AubreyA debutant at the tournament and taking it by storm, Konstantinos Koufos (or Kosta for short) is currently leading the Greek side on a march towards the semi-finals whilst personally he leads the competition charts in both points and boards.
The big man might not be a familiar face in most of Europe just yet, playing as he has his career so far at high school level in the United States, but you get the feeling that after this
tournament that may well change.
|Marios Matalon, who also play in the NCAA next year, has done a good job getting Koufos the ball.|
From speaking to Kosta you really get the impression that this guy is not just a star on the court but really level-headed off it, having been through some tough times already in his younger years and now having a clear idea of what’s important in life.
Recently, the young Greek man from Ohio took time out to talk hoops with FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Hi Kosta. This is your first time here at the U18s, right? How are you enjoying it?
Koufos: Yeah, this is my first time here. It’s great, you know, we’ve all come here to have fun and enjoy ourselves and that’s exactly what we’re doing and so far it’s working out for us.
FIBA Europe: You’re here representing Greece but you were born and raised in the US, weren’t you?
Koufos: Yeah, that’s right. I was born in the US but my parents are Greek. For me it’s great to be playing with Greece. It’s really my dream to one day be able to play in the senior side, and you know, god willing, one day it could happen.
FIBA Europe: Do you have any experience of playing here in Europe before this tournament?
Koufos: Actually yeah. I was here for a youth tournament once with a US team.
FIBA Europe: And what differences do you notice between the style of play here in an all-European competition and in the States?
Koufos: I think they rely more on pure athletic ability in the States than they do here. Here the game is more fundamentally sound, you know? Every player can shoot, which means that you have to play better on defence. It’s a really high level I think.
FIBA Europe: You seem to be attracting a lot of attention back in the States. Do you get
that in Greece too?
||We can win gold, yeah, why not?
Koufos: Yeah in Greece there’s lots of attention on me, and on all the team really because the game is so popular there and our senior team is a good side right now.
FIBA Europe: Which of your teammates do you think will become a star in the near future?
Koufos: They all could, seriously. I love my teammates. All of them, the players and the coaches can have really good futures. We’re all great friends. They’re all great and we just want to have fun and we know that we’re really lucky to be here doing this.
FIBA Europe: I saw that your mum was here in the crowd. Does she always travel with you?
Koufos: Yeah, she has also been the one who has influenced me most in my life. Sadly my father passed away when I was nine, and she’s raised me herself. I’m here because of her, you know, and I love travelling with her. She never played the game herself, but after a game she’ll tell me what I need to do in the next game and give me advice. She’s a really big support.
FIBA Europe: How far do you think Greece can go in this competition?
Koufos: We can win gold, yeah, why not? There are some really big teams here like Serbia, Spain and France just to name a couple of them, you know, but we can go far. We’ve been winning games up to now and we just need to keep going.
FIBA Europe: And next season, after this tournament, you’ll be going back to the US to start playing college level with Ohio State. Are you more excited or nervous?
Koufos: I’m looking forward to playing with more great players, you know? For me I don’t care if I’m the star in the side or just another part of the team, just so long as I have great guys around me playing well and having fun. That’s the main thing for me.