Ioannidis seeks medal

Yiannis Ioannidis, the coach of Greece’s men’s basketball team, loves speaking in epigrams: «A few words are sugar, none is honey,» he told reporters yesterday, speaking about the team’s preparation for the European Championships in Sweden, in September. Of course, the loquacious coach does not envisage applying the phrase to himself, but to his players. A notorious disciplinarian who will brook no dissent, especially from those youngsters who have yet not proved their mettle, Ioannidis made it clear what he expects of his players. «I want them to bleed on the floor, to chase victory and to die for the team. If they do that, I will be content, regardless of the result,» he said. Ioannidis does want a result, of course. In private conversations, he has hinted he will settle for nothing other than a medal, which Greece has won exactly three times in the long history of the Europeans (third in 1949, first in 1987, second in 1989). Most of all, he wants to make up for a disappointing ninth place in the last championships, in 2001. The team is now, and will be until August 5, training at the high-altitude village of Metsovo. Then, it will play several friendlies with strong teams such as defending world champions Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain and Australia. Ioannidis has summoned 20 players to try out in order to choose the final roster of 12 just before the championships. NBA players Iakovos Tsakalidis (Phoenix Suns) and Efthymis Rentzias (Philadelphia 76ers) will join training camp in a week’s time, said Ioannidis.

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