Giannis Antetokounmpo has firmly declared that his aim is to represent Greece at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China this summer.
The 24-year-old superstar, who last played for the Greek national team at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin, spoke on Monday night after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 113-94 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
“I want to play,” Antetokounmpo said in a video posted on Greek website SDNA, when asked about the World Cup. “I want to be with my team in China at the World Cup, and I hope to be healthy at the end of the season so I’m able to represent my country at this event that’s so important.”
Despite playing on the road, Antetokounmpo felt right at home in Brooklyn with many fans from the Greek community in New York showing up to support him.
“They’re amazing,” he said of the fans. “I would like to thank everyone who came here today. They have been supporting me since day 1. They support the Bucks, they support my family.
“It’s an incredible feeling to come here (Barclays Center) and to see so many Greek flags. They haven’t stopped coming to watch my games since I’m in the league and they just grow in numbers. I am very proud of that.”
— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) February 6, 2019
Antetokounmpo’s play has been winning over more and more supporters. He is averaging 26.7 points 12.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game for the Bucks, who own the NBA’s best record with 39 wins and only 13 defeats. It’s no surprise then that he is a leading candidate to capture the NBA’s MVP award this season.
Antetokounmpo has already got one World Cup experience under his belt. When he was just bursting onto the scene in 2014, Antetokounmpo represented Greece at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
He then played at FIBA EuroBasket 2015, and the following year at the OQT in Italy.
Without Antetokounmpo, Greece were still able to clinch a spot in this year’s 32-team tournament by the end of the fourth window. They did so with a thrilling, last-second 86-85 triumph at Georgia on September 16.
The Greeks, 9-1 and looking to lock up a top seed in the World Cup draw, wrap up their European Qualifiers campaign when they host Georgia on February 21 and then play at Germany on February 24.