Irrespective of the final outcome in the 2011 FIBA European Basketball Championship, the Greek national team we have been watching in the evenings of this otherwise depressing month has already won our hearts and filled us with hope..
Indeed, this basketball squad, of silent super players, hidden aces, workmen and fighters who are playing to honor their national colors, this team which came together through a selection of substitute players, is providing us with a welcome lift and serving as an example to each and every one of us.
It is a team of talented, disciplined players who are putting up a fight, who are playing to win without second thoughts or any kind of self-interest.
It?s a team featuring several young Greek Americans, Nick, Pat, Mike and Kosta, who traveled to Lithuania in order to sweat it out in their blue-and-white kits. It?s a team of second-best athletes who are surpassing the top-rated ones. They are sportsmen who are determined to fight up to the very last second, who give it their all, athletes who are looking at each other, who are looking at their coach, who are looking at their team, who believe in their team. It?s the other kind of Greece.
On the serene face of Nikos Zisis and in the boyish-looking figure of Antonis Fotsis, you can see the decisive, cool-headed leaders who are focusing on their goal. They are self-confident, responsible, not afraid of taking risks or facing up to any kind of rival. They are not afraid of themselves. They are anti-stars who are turning into a deeply moving example for today?s tired, discouraged Greeks, their compatriots who are in danger of being defeated without even putting up a fight.
Through every single drop of sweat, every defense move, every counterattack, the kids on the court, the teen champions, the Greek-American kids, our kids, are all sending us a message with their fiery temperament, persistence, discipline and never-ending stamina: A lost battle is a battle which was never fought in the first place.
We care very little whether or not they reach the finals; in fact, we don?t really care if they lose. They have already given the rest of us an example: to fight. In this way, they have already won.