SPORTS

Greek-Nigerian prodigy makes NBA dream come true

Yiannis Antetokounmpo became in the early hours of Friday the Greek basketball player with the highest placement in the NBA draft after being picked at number 15 by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 18-year-old Greek of Nigerian origin plied his trade at Filathlitikos in Greece’s second-tier league until this season, but has now shot to fame as he is to wear the jersey with number 34 at the Bucks.

This forms just another chapter in the amazing story of the Antetokounmpo family from Nigeria, which emigrated to Greece 24 years ago and lived a really challenging life at Sepolia, west of Athens city center, until its four children chose to try it out in basketball.

They joined the Zografou club of Filathlitikos and grew with it, taking the previously unheard of team to the verge of reaching the top flight this spring.

Yiannis, the best basketball offspring of the Antetokounmpo family to date, got to grow by 10 centimeters within the last year to reach up to 2.06 meters, which made him an outstanding forward not just for his height but also for his remarkable scoring skill.

Basketball federation head Giorgos Vassilakopoulos secured him the Greek basketball identity card that allowed the player and his brothers to play in the Greek A2 division.

Antetokounmpo himself stresses the importance of the decision a few months ago by the then Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, when he single-handedly cut corners to ensure the 18-year-old got a Greek passport as soon as possible.

This made amends for previous delays by authorities, typical of the Greek state, but his love for the country he was born in became evident when he raised the Greek flag upon hearing his name during the draft process in the early hours of Friday. Yiannis was also the youngest player in the 2013 NBA draft.

Meanwhile another Greek international, Kosta Koufos moved from the Denver Nuggets to Memphis Grizzlies in the early hours of Friday.