After a fast and furious start to life in Milan with two games in the first two days of Group C action at EuroBasket 2022, Great Britain take to the court once again today (Monday) as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece await Head Coach Nate Reinking’s side in GB’s third outing of the competition.
One of GB’s Assistant Coaches, Andreas Kapoulas, knows the Greeks only too well as he was born and raised in the land of the European powerhouses, so who better to speak to in previewing Monday’s massive showdown than the Bristol Flyers play-caller himself?
“Greece is a powerhouse, with players of the highest calibre that are recognised across world basketball, so it is a real opportunity for us as a team to be playing against them.” Kapoulas said.
“Greece is obviously the country where I was born, I’ve had a lot of situations in the past where I’ve had to play against the Greek team and when the national anthem is playing that is obviously where I come from, but GB is my home.
“There is some form of excitement to play against them and an honour to play against Greece, but I’m all for GB so when that ball goes up the only thing I’m thinking about is how we can beat the Greeks.”
“To be here now with them at EuroBasket makes it even more special.”
Kapoulas’ long-standing coaching relationship with the national team stretches all the way back to 2010, and Milan marks his first EuroBasket as part of the senior men’s team’s staff after playing a key role in the qualification campaign with his expertise and strong relationships with the players.
Those relationships with some of the younger players in the team were forged many years ago, when Kapoulas was in his first national team coaching role, and he speaks of how special it is to now be on such a major stage still working with those players he helped nurture back in their younger days.
“It has been exciting to be here, being around all the teams and this level of competition. It has been very motivating and I am loving that part of it. It is an honour to represent GB on such a stage.
“It is always an aspiration to coach at the highest level possible, but what is really cool about this for me is that I started my involvement with the National Team Programme back in 2010 with players like Luke Nelson, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Carl Wheatle, so to see them go through the age groups, coach them again along their journeys, and be here now with them at EuroBasket, it just makes it even more special.
“You learn things all the time and get older and wiser. The National Team Programme has been great for my development as a coach for several years now. I owe a lot to it and to be here at EuroBasket with these players, it is an honour and a privilege.”
“We just want to keep improving so tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to do that.”
Whilst two defeats from two games is far from what the team had hoped to achieve thus far in the competition, there have been positives to build upon in particular in the recent performance against Croatia where – aside from a wayward spell in the third quarter – GB were battling well with the European heavyweights, after struggling in their opener against Ukraine.
Kapoulas stresses that the team need to continue to focus on those positives and find ways to build upon them in the coming fixtures, emphasising the need to find a way to extend positive performances throughout the entirety of the game.
“We want to maintain our energy and our focus for 40 minutes. It is going to be a difficult game, there is no question about that. They’re very good at getting in their transition game, their defence creates their offence. Giannis Antetokounmpo is obviously a very difficult player to stop, as well as their other high-quality players.
“For us we just need to maintain our focus, stick to our game plan and concentrate on improving as a team. We’ve got to do it one quarter at a time and not think too far ahead. We took a good step forward against Croatia with a good first half, but we weren’t able to maintain the level of focus required to stay in the game in the third quarter.
“We need to just focus on staying with them as best we can and see what we can achieve. We really believe in our group of players. We know the first two games haven’t gone the way we’d have liked them to go. We had a short preparation but we’re not making any excuses and we just want to keep improving, so tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to do that.”
All of Great Britain’s fixtures at EuroBasket 2022 can be watched live on FIBA’s streaming platform, Courtside 1891. Head to courtside1891.basketball and use the promo code ‘EUROGB25’ now to get 25% off an annual pass to the platform.