From PA International, Athens
Greek coach Yiannis Ioannidis has chosen the path of caution and selected a third point guard for the European Championships instead of versatile forward Costas Tsartsaris.
Playmaker Christos Harissis was the last player to make the 12-strong group for the tournament to be staged in Sweden, with Greece opening their campaign against Group D opponents Croatia in Boras on Friday.
Ioannidis had a tough job choosing the final squad because he didn’t want to sacrifice one of his favorite players, the 6ft 9in Tsartsaris, a man who combines height with outside shooting ability and also rebounds extremely well.
||If we can get to Stockholm, we'll see what happens
His qualities make him dangerous at either forward spot.
But in order to bring in a third point guard Ioannidis had to cut him.
The playmaker takes the brunt of the opponents’ defensive pressure and Ioannidis didn’t want Greece to be short of a ballhandler if one of his first choice players at the spot, Theodoros Papaloukas or Dimitris Diamantidis, gets hurt.
Manolis Papamakarios was hoping to make the final cut as point guard but Harissis’ speed and ability to also play as a shooting guard gave him an advantage.
“We worked very hard and I think we are very strong and can do something good in Sweden,” said Harissis, valued by Ioannidis for his explosiveness and ability to beat zone defences with his outside shot.
“It’s a challenge for me.”
Harissis has actually been injured recently.
Nikos Hadzivrettas is the only pure shooting guard in the group but Harissis can fill in for him, as well as small forwards Georgios Sigalas, Fragiskos Alvertis and Demetrios Papanikolaou.
The 6ft 8in Antonis Fotsis is also primarily a small forward, but he, along with Alvertis and Papanikolaou, can also play power forward.
Michalis Kakiouzis can also play both forward positions, while Demos Dikoudis is the team’s only pure power forward.
In the seven-footer department, Efthymis Rentzias can play both power forward or centre, while Iakovos Tsakalidis of the Phoenix Suns is the only true centre.
Ioannidis, speaking before leaving for Boras, said: “We worked hard and we are very well prepared. We know our opponents. Our players want to play well but they must show it on the court. Our first target is to get to Stockholm.
“If we can get there, we’ll see what happens.”
Greece also have Turkey and the Ukraine in their group.
Ioannidis, renowned for his superstitions, has decided to give Harissis the number 13.
Upon their arrival in Boras, the Greek contingent was met by about 100 fans who unfurled an enormous Greek flag.
Greece squad: Christos Harissi, Theodoros Papaloukas, Dimitris Diamantidis, Nikos Hadzivrettas, Georgios Sigalas, Fragiskos Alvertis, Demetrios Papanikolaou, Antonis Fotsis, Michalis Kakiouzis, Demos Dikoudis, Efthymis Rentzias and Iakovos Tsakalidis.