With the 19th edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup beginning on August 25th, there follows a look at the rosters for each of the 32 teams taking part. This instalment looks at the team from Greece, silver medallists in 2006, but yet to win this tournament in nine appearances.
- PG – 6’5 – Born 30th December 1992
- Olympiacos, Greece
With no Nikos Pappas, no Kostas Sloukas and no Nick Calathes any more, Walkup’s Greek citizenship – which arrived in April after just two years of playing in the country – was sorely needed. He will not be just one of the floor generals; he will be the floor general. Luckily, as examined in an earlier post about how he posted two of the best zero-point performances in history during the 2023 EuroLeague Final Four, Walkup is very willing to be deferential.
A very productive and controlled player, Walkup runs off the ball, makes good decisions when on it, is always ensuring both ball and man are in lots of motion, and hits enough of his quick flat-footed release jumpers to punish those who leave him open. He moves his feet well on defence, drives and kicks, has good size for the point guard spot, does not much isolate, curls around, probes for gaps, and sneaks through small ones he finds. Walkup feeds the interior well, passes well over the top, hits the roll men and has a serious knack for drawing fouls when in amongst the trees.
If he had top-tier athleticism, he would be in the top-tier. As it is, he has the keys to the Greek team and the requirement to be the steward for the two younger ball-handlers behind him.
- PG/SG – 6’4 – Born 3rd February 1999
- Panathinaikos, Greece
Having debuted in Greece’s top division when still only 14 years old, Moraitis has been on the radar of the national team for a decade. It has not been until the last two seasons, though, that he finally broke through as a front line player. The first guard off the bench for Peristeri last year, Moraitis averaged 7.5 points, 2.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, shooting 40.2% from the field and 30.8% from three-point range. With good size for the point guard spot, Moraitis can also defend the two, and the defensive end is indeed where he does his best work; he moves his feet well, stays in front, plays with energy and makes good reads. His offensive reads as a pick-and-roll passer are solid, too, and although he is a below-the-rim player who is not an efficient finisher from any area – the jump shot being particularly spotty – the ability to play as a primary playmaker, while checking the opponent’s primary playmaker, is an important one to have.
- SG – 6’5 – Born 4th August 1998
- Olympiacos, Greece
To put Lountzis’s place in the hierarchy of the Olympiacos roster into context, he played 14.6 minutes of 29 games (with 14 starts) in Greek league play, but managed only 7.1 minutes per game in 19 EuroLeague contests, with as many DNP-CDs as appearances. When the team is fully healthy and not as restricted in its number of imports, then, Lountzis is not in the rotation. And the same would be true here of the Greek national team; if everyone is available, Lountzis would not be required. Nevertheless, here he is, and what he has shown in his play with the red and whites over the past two seasons is a much improved shooting stroke.
Lountzis’s off-ball style of wing and corner spot-ups self-evidently needs good shooting to work, and having shot in the high-thirties in percentage from three in each of the last two years, he has added that. A decently athletic player who runs the court and is also more willing to mix it up on the glass more than many at his position, Lountzis when he is shooting well provides a potent scoring threat with minimal dribbles, alongside defensive contributions and plenty of movement. Perhaps he can kick on from here.
- SG – 6’5 – Born 22nd September 1993
- Olympiacos, Greece
If Walkup is the calm, steadying influence, then Larentzakis is the fire he is often putting out. Vocal, expressive, energetic, loud and bothersome, Larentzakis can irritate the competition and fire up his own team, and his defence is similarly feisty. It is not always technically very good, as he is wont to gamble and defends with his hands rather than his feet, but Larentzakis makes his presence known regardless, and that counts for something. Offensively, while he was a sub-par shooter for a wing across the first half of his career, Larentzakis has shot much better from three in each of the last two seasons, both a by-product of and part of the reason for the meticulous Olympiacos offence. He does not much handle and is not going to create in isolation, yet nor do they want him to; some shooting, some extra passing, some good shot selection and some energetic defence, and that will do them. The days when he tries to do too much of everything can be lived with.
- PG/SG/SF – 6’5 – Born 18th April 1994
- Aris Thessaloniki, Greece
Bochoridis has now had two non-consecutive three-year runs in the EuroLeague with Panathinaikos, for six years in total. And in each of the six, he has struggled, far more so than in Greek league play. The added athleticism, defence and size seems to close out the fine margins that the not-very-athletic Lefty – who, fittingly, is indeed a lefty – needs to operate in. And that does not bode well for his prospects in international play. Nevertheless, what Bochoridis does offer is a point guard’s mentality in a wing’s frame – although not a primary ball-handler, he is a good secondary or weak-side option and has some nice passing vision, particularly out of the pick-and-roll. The shot is spotty and the shot selection not always where it should be, but with the ball in his hands he expands the playbook, and, as long as he does not have to chase quick guards around, his instincts have some defensive uses too.
- SF – 6’8 – Born 27th June 2001
- Baskonia, Spain
On account of his breakout 2022/23 campaign – in which he averaged 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1,9 assists and 1.1 steals per game for Merkezefendi in Turkey – Rogkavopoulos has played his way both onto this World Cup roster and into next year’s EuroLeague. A sought-after prospect for some years, it had never quite kicked into full gear for Rogkavopoulos in his home country, yet the move abroad to low-budget Merkezefendi – and thus the lack of competition for minutes and shots – saw him put together by far the best stretch of play of his young pro career. Rogkavopoulos has a nice package of athletic tools and ball skills; great size for the three spot, some burst, good mobility, a right-handed-heavy dribble-drive game and a good three-point shooting stroke on the offensive end, combined with the potential for positional versatility on defence. The handle needs tightening and the defence needs plenty of work, both to stay in front on the perimeter and in handling the physicality on the interior, but Greece now has themselves a long, smooth athletic finisher with some passing chops at the small forward spot for a decade to come.
- SF/PF – 6’8 – Born 31th July 1990
- Olympiacos, Greece
The story on Papanikolaou has always been one of inconsistency, on offence at least. In the nicest possible way, it can definitely be said that he is prone to going long periods of time without doing much of anything. Nevertheless, he is always a presence, if largely through size alone. A big wing with a hybrid game, Papanikolaou does the little things – defensive reads, cuts off the ball, etc – in a decently athletic frame that likes to get out and run. Rarely if ever is he the one up top; he is instead on all the wings, cutting rather than dribbling, and shooting 42.9% from three-point range in EuroLeague play last season. This is higher than usual, but the inconsistencies apply to consecutive seasons as well. Defensively, Papanikolaou is more consistent and more effective, and his role on the team is an important one to link up the ball-handlers with the bigs, switching onto whoever is required. His own scoring game will however be needed as well.
- SF/PF – 6’7 – Born 18th July 1992
- Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Thanasis is the sole representative of the Antetokounmpo family at the competition, after Giannis withdrew from the squad and Kostas was cut from it. His role will be the same as it always is – to provide energy, athleticism and defence from the bench. Now into his thirties, assuming any upside is to come beyond what Thanasis already does is surely farfetched, and he is also coming off of the worst season of his pro career. That said, Greece know what they have here.
- PF – 6’9 – Born 30th March 1994
- Panathinaikos, Greece
Papapetrou has experience beyond his years, and as he moves through his prime, he continues to offer a consistent if unremarkable role-playing package for the ever-changing roster around him. Last season for Paritzan Belgrade, he averaged 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 20.6 minutes in EuroLeague play; in no way do he or his numbers stand out, but the contributions are at least versatile. Papapetrou spots up (albeit not efficiently), is a committed team defender with improved fouls rates, passes shrewdly, fills the corners, posts up on occasion, runs the court more regularly than perhaps you would expect from a non-premium athlete, and has good anticipation. Just do not rely on him too much.
- C – 7’1 – Born 3rd July 1997
- Fenerbahçe, Turkey
On account of the fact that he is both very able and, it would seem, amenable to the idea of returning to the NBA some day soon, Papagiannis was profiled in full in this space during the course of last season. Rumours about a return to the NBA were bandied around this summer, yet came to nothing, and Papagiannis instead opted to stay in the EuroLeague while moving from Panathinaikos to Turkish rivals Fenerbahce. Which was brave.
- PF/C – 6’11 – Born 11th June 1996
- Panathinaikos, Greece
Mitoglou did not play club basketball last season, as he was suspended for 16 months commencing March 2022 for a doping offence. At least the sentence was reduced from the 32 months it initially was. Further to that, in between the roster being announced, Mitoglou suffered an injury and had to withdraw, but not until after the replacement deadline had passed. So he won’t be playing now, either. When he does play, Mitoglou uses his combination of good wingspan and soft touch to score on the roll, on the pop and in the post, a smooth offensive player with decent-enough defensive footwork. It’s just that we haven’t seen it for a while.
- C – 6’10 – Born 21st April 2000
- AEK Athens, Greece
Since the careers of Giannis Bourousis, Antonis Fotsis, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Ian Vougioukas etc wound down, Greece has had – with the exception of the Antetokounmpos – somewhat of a shortage of new young big men coming through. Chatzidakis has not exactly blown away the competition either, with his modest averages of 5.4 points, 3.0 rebounds (including move offensive than defensive) and 0.2 blocks in 14,4 minutes per game in Greek league play for AEK last season. He is not a shot-blocker, he is not a floor-stretcher, he is not a rebounder and he is not a possession-winner. He also fouls constantly, has a body built more like a four than a five without the ability to play away from the rim on either end, and is not a high-calibre athlete. What he is instead is a screener and roller, a catcher and finisher, and a committed if not especially dexterous defender. But he is not the new Bourousis. He is not even the new Dimitrios Agravanis.
Group A: Italy, Angola, Philippines, Dominican Republic
Group B: China, Serbia, Puerto Rico, South Sudan
Group C: USA, Greece, Jordan, New Zealand
Group D: Egypt, Mexico, Lithuania, Montenegro
Group E: Germany, Finland, Australia, Japan
Group F: Slovenia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Venezuela
Group G: Iran, Spain, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire
Group H: Canada, Latvia, France, Lebanon