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Reds' hoopsters refuse to join national team

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Α new crisis has broken out in Greek basketball as the national team players belonging to Olympiakos stated they are not willing to take part in Greece’s training and games as long as the national team coach is also the coach of archrival Panathinaikos, as a matter of principle. Greece coach Rick Pitino issued a strong reaction speaking of lack of respect.

The new episode in the clash of Olympiakos with the Greek basketball federation (EOK) sees Greece internationals Giorgos Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Antonis Koniaris refuse to participate in the national team’s campaign next summer to qualify to the Olympic Games.

The three players have informed EOK they will not pull the Greece jersey until further notice, with EOK head Giorgos Vassilakopoulos responding on Tuesday saying the letter they have signed was not written by themselves but by someone else, implying this decision was imposed on the players by their club.

It is reminded that Olympiakos dropped out of the Basket League last spring and even in the A2 division this season it has fielded a development team of young players. It also refused to field any of its Euroleague players in the Greek Cup.

Pitino gave his own response on Sunday, saying that he has come to Greece to pay back the love he has received in this country, and he has respect for everyone in Greece – but added that he also expects to be respected too.

He was speaking after Panathinaikos’ 103-69 win at Kolossos Rhodes that extended the Greens’ unbeaten record to nine games in the Basket League.

In the weekend’s other games AEK saw off Promitheas Patras 73-68 at home, Ionikos shocked Ifaistos 79-68 at Limnos, Iraklis thumped Lavrio 92-62, Panionios edged out PAOK 97-87, Peristeri is again alone in second after thrashing Larissa 101-63, and Rethymno moved out of the drop zone with a 70-63 victory over Aris.

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