Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the rare MVPs of the NBA to not be a part of Team USA in international play. Coming off of his superstar season, Giannis was the face of the Greek National Team, but in the lead up to the tournament, he was joined by a couple of familiar faces in the form of his brothers. Kostas and Thanasis.
One made the team and another was eventually cut, but the fact that all three Antetokounmpo brothers even had a chance at making the team is a testament to their talent on the basketball court.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greek National Team
The Antetokounmpos were not the only players on the Greek National Team who had played in the NBA. Former Sacramento Kings and Portland Trailblazers big man Georgios Papagiannis and former Memphis Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes were also on the roster.
However, even with the reigning MVP of the NBA and some former NBA talent, the Greeks were not able to make much of a splash at the World Cup.
As Team USA saw with its struggles in the tournament, sometimes there is more needed, and while the players Greece had competed at their highest level, other teams were not only stacked with stars from both the NBA and international hoops, they made up some of the most storied rosters in international play. The Greeks would finish four places behind the United States at 11th place when the tournament was over.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s tournament
Giannis Antetokounmpo was predictably one of the best players on the Greek national team. Not only did he lead the team in scoring with nearly 15 points per game and led them in rebounding with a hair under nine, but he also provided the team with the type of superstar presence that is needed in the tournament.
However, international play is a far different animal than NBA competition, and a well-rounded team may often outperform a team with a few stars.
While most American NBA players of Giannis’s talent chose to stay at home, Giannis embraced the challenge of taking on the world in front of a roster that was sparse on international stars beside himself. The prospect of playing with family probably didn’t hurt him, either.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo was a role player for the Greek team, and while he may not have had the opportunity to put up star numbers and dominate like his taller brother Giannis did, he was able to give his team six points per game to go along with a rebound and an assist. Thanasis lacks the size of his superstar younger brother, but he has garnered his attention.
Thanasis’s best game came against New Zealand when he was able to get ten points, two assists, and three rebounds on top of two steals and a block in 19 minutes.
It was the kind of role that he may have to get used to next year in the NBA when he will team up with Giannis on the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite being an NBA and NBA G-League player in his own right, Kostas Antetokounmpo did not fare as well as his brothers did at the World Cup. Kostas, signed by the Los Angeles Lakers for the upcoming season, was given the chance to try out for the Greek team. However, Kostas was cut before the World Cup even started.
The youngest of the Antetokounmpo, Kostas is just 21 years old, and while being cut from a team that should be friendly for an NBA caliber player, it is not a death knell on his career going forward. Basketball is filled with stories of guys who were not considered good enough to make it, and perhaps Kostas Antetokounmpo will be the latest addition to that club.