Hoopsters’ Olympic campaign begins

The players and staff of the national basketball team began preparations yesterday for the games that will decide whether they make the Olympics. Coach Panayiotis Yiannakis, his staff and players met in Athens and set off for a mountain resort in Karpenisi where they will conduct the first stage of training ahead of the tournament on July 14-20 at the OAKA sports complex. «There is nothing better than preparing with the national team and these kids have got the talent to make people proud,» said Yiannakis. «All the guys will give their better selves; we want to be healthy and calm, have patience and make the best of every game, not just in terms of results but also in terms of our own performance,» he added. All the players except for US-based Costas Koufos were present, with Yiannakis saying he is in the USA waiting for the NBA draft process. The 17 players present were Vassilis Spanoulis, Nikos Zisis, Dimitris Diamantidis, Costas Tsartsaris, Stratos Perperoglou, Theodoris Papaloukas, Antonis Fotsis, Panayiotis Vassilopoulos, Yiannis Bourousis, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Giorgos Printezis, Ian Yougioukas, Michalis Pelekanos, Dimitris Tsaldaris, Andreas Glyniadakis, Yiannis Kalambokis and Vassilis Xanthopoulos. Referring to the absences of Lazaros Papadopoulos, Dimos Dikoudis, Michalis Kakiouzis and Nikos Hatzivrettas, Zisis said: «Many players who have offered so much to the national team are not with it anymore, but the national team always is and always will be present. And those of us who are here will do our best to realize the first target, which is to qualify for the Olympic Games; then we will see.» Printezis and Tsaldaris underwent a snap doping test by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) upon their arrival at Karpenisi, the Hellenic Basketball Federation announced.