SPORTS

Kakiouzis and Dikoudis are out of the national basketball squad

Greece basketball coach Panayiotis Yiannakis raised many eyebrows by not including captain Michalis Kakiouzis in the 19 players he has called up for the pre-Olympic tournament in July, while forward Dimos Dikoudis announced yesterday that he has chosen not to play for the national team this summer. Yiannakis, also the coach of Olympiakos, has invited Vassilis Spanoulis, Nikos Zisis, Dimitris Diamantidis, Costas Tsartsaris, Dimos Dikoudis, Stratos Perperoglou, Antonis Fotsis, Thodoris Papaloukas, Panayiotis Vassilopoulos, Yiannis Bourousis, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Giorgos Printezis, Ian Vouyioukas, Michalis Pelekanos, Costas Koufos, Dimitris Tsaldaris, Andreas Glyniadakis, Yiannis Kalambokis and Vassilis Xanthopoulos. Yet Dikoudis stated on his website that «the small amount of time between the end of the league and the start of the national team’s preparation as well as with the continuous competitions the national team has entered every summer have made me decide to rest this summer and prepare for next season.» Kakiouzis, the fourth player from the 2005 European champions to be absent from the pre-Olympic tournament, to be held in Athens, along with Dikoudis, Lazaros Papadopoulos and Nikos Hatzivrettas, expressed his disappointment in a press conference. «I received a phone call from the coach who notified me that I was not part of his plans anymore ahead of the pre-Olympic tournament,» said Kakiouzis. «Trying to overcome my initial shock I asked him about the reasons for that decision because I thought my performance this year had reached high standards. He replied that this had nothing to do with his decision and that his plan had no position for me,» explained the 31-year-old player of Spain’s Caja San Fernando. «Every athlete wants to finish his career on the court, where they have sweated it out. I had wanted to leave the national team in the way that [veteran weightlifter] Pyrros Dimas did. I intended for my international career to end on the court and not here, in a hotel room.» He did add, however, that he will always be available for selection should the coach wish to invite him to the team. «I am always here, whenever the national team need me. I am a soldier of the national team,» he stressed.