A Guide to the Greece Men’s Basketball Team
The Greece men’s basketball team has been a serious competitor in international competitions in recent years. Since the turn of the century, they’ve claimed a gold medal and a bronze medal at FIBA EuroBasket and a silver medal at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Led by NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the men’s Greek basketball team, affectionately known as ‘Episimi Agapimeni’ (Official Beloved), will likely be a force on the international stage for years to come.
Keen to discover more about what makes the ‘Hellas’ team so great? Here at Courtside 1891, we’ve created this in-depth guide that covers their unique history, legendary players and current stars.
Team Presentation Video
Boost your knowledge about the Greek men’s basketball team with our handy Team Discovery Video. It acts as a perfect primer for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup and is packed with facts and stats that you can use to impress your basketball buddies.
- Pre-World Cup FIBA Men’s World Ranking - 9th
- 1 FIBA Basketball World Cup silver medal
- 5 FIBA EuroBasket medals, including two golds
- Nikos Galis is in the FIBA Hall of Fame
- Qualified for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 9 times
- FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Group C (alongside Jordan, the United States and New Zealand), which will be contested in the Greater Manila Area of the Philippines
World Cup Qualification
In the first phase of qualification for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Greece were drawn alongside Türkiye, Great Britain and Belarus in Group B.
The team shockingly lost their first game against Great Britain in Newcastle, but then went unbeaten in the rest of their fixtures. They ultimately topped the group with a 3-1 record and qualified for the second qualification phase along with Türkiye and Great Britain.
Meanwhile, Belarus were expelled from the competition following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Their two results (a loss against Greece and a win over Türkiye) were annulled, meaning each side in this group only played four games.
In the second and final phase of qualifying, Greece were drawn in Group I, alongside Latvia, Serbia, Türkiye, Belgium and Great Britain. Here, the Greek team struggled to a 3-3 record.
Thankfully, they still secured the third and final qualifying spot in the group with an overall record of 6-4. They actually lost out on second place to Serbia based on their head-to-head record by a single point (192-191)!
Giannis Antetokounmpo only featured in two FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers, as many of the side’s games clashed with his NBA commitments. In fact, you could point to the fact that 39 players made an appearance in Greece’s World Cup qualifying campaign as a reason behind their inconsistent results.
In Giannis’ absence, the bulk of the scoring responsibility fell onto Dimitris Agravanis, who finished the qualifying campaign with 82 points on 50.9% shooting. He also added 32 rebounds and finished the campaign with an overall +/- of +39 through six games.
The squad Greece used for the qualification process wasn’t packed with household names, but the side was stuffed with high-level performers that produced some scintillating basketball. Their Top 10 plays from the qualification phase are highlighted in the video below.
Current Star Players
Greece announced their expanded 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup roster on July 20, and the name everyone wanted to see was included.
It has been well documented all summer that two-time NBA MVP and former NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo was questionable to make the World Cup. After all, the ‘Greek Freak’ underwent a cleanup procedure on his knee two weeks after the end of the NBA season.
If he can recover in time to be named in the final roster, it remains unclear what role Antetokounmpo will be able to play during their run towards a first World Cup trophy.
However, he regularly makes himself available for national team duty and has represented Greece at two FIBA Basketball World Cups and two FIBA EuroBaskets, so if there’s a chance he can contribute, you can bet he will be aiming to convince the Milwaukee Bucks and all those concerned that he is good to go.
Sadly, fans of Greek basketball won’t be able to see veterans Nick Calathes or Kostas Sloukas at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Both have informed head coach Dimitris Itoudis that they intend to rest this summer.
This has created opportunities for those who made a splash during the Qualifiers. This includes Dimitrios Moraitis, 24, who hit the full court buzzer beater against Serbia, and Nikos Rogkavopoulos, 22, who knocked down 3 three-pointers in that OT victory.
Legends of the Team
Giannis may be the current star of the squad, but Nikos Galis remains the GOAT of Greek basketball. He’s one of the greatest athletes that the country has ever produced and he’s considered to be the man responsible for lifting the Hellas team from a minor player to a European powerhouse.
An inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Galis is the greatest European scorer to ever play the game and one of the best players in FIBA history.
Galis made his FIBA Basketball World Cup debut in 1986 and he immediately set the tournament on fire. His Greek side ultimately finished 10th, but Galis ended the World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer. In 10 matches, he scored a colossal 337 points. To date, this remains the highest number of points scored by a single player at a World Cup.
During his stellar international career, he also claimed two FIBA EuroBasket medals with Basketball Greece. His greatest achievement came in 1987, when he led Greece to gold and finished as the tournament’s MVP.
He was named to the All-EuroBasket Team four times (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991) and he was also the leading scorer at all four of these tournaments. Today, he also still holds the EuroBasket record for the highest career scoring average (31.2 points per game) and the World Championship/Cup (33.5 points). A truly incredible player!
Historical World Cup Performance
Greece first qualified for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1986. Since then, they’ve only failed to qualify for the tournament once, in 2002.
Their best performance at the tournament came in 2006, when the side claimed silver. Greece upset the basketball world when they overpowered a LeBron James-powered United States 101-95 in the semi-final thanks to a 22-point performance from Vassilis Spanoulis. You can watch highlights of this jaw-dropping encounter here:
To call this result shocking really is an understatement. With this win, the Greek side became the only team in the world to defeat the United States in a major basketball competition between 2005 and 2016. During the rest of this period, USA Basketball claimed three Olympic golds and two FIBA Basketball World Cups.
Sadly though, this remains Greece’s only medal at the tournament and in the past three editions they’ve finished 11th, 9th and 11th.
Previous Successes and Tournament Wins
Greece have only participated at four Summer Olympics and have placed fifth on three occasions. But, Greece haven’t qualified for the tournament since 2008 and they have never managed to claim an Olympic medal.
Thankfully, the Greece basketball team has fared better at FIBA EuroBasket. Here they have claimed two bronze medals, one silver medal and two gold medals in 28 tournament appearances. Plus, since 2000, Greece have been perennial contenders at the tournament. During this time, they’ve won one gold medal and one bronze medal. They’ve also finished fourth once and fifth twice.
How to Watch
Keen to see if an Antetokounmpo-inspired Greek side can capture their first FIBA Basketball World Cup title? Well, worldwide fans can stream all the FIBA Basketball World Cup games as well as action from all the other major international men’s and women’s tournaments right here.
As FIBA’s premium streaming partner for the World Cup, Courtside 1891 is the go-to platform with access to every 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup game.
To make sure you catch every basket, download our app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play. Alternatively, sign up to our website platform. But, please be aware that due to broadcasting rights and restrictions, access to some games might be restricted depending on your location. See our where-to-watch page for full details.
Want to discover more about when each game will be played? Head over to the Courtside 1891 Game Center. Here you’ll find matchup times in your country.