The Bucks and the Greek Basketball Federation have a working relationship regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s presence on the Greek national team, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Greece named Bucks assistant Josh Oppenheimer to its coaching staff so he can monitor Antetokounmpo’s workouts and game preparation. Milwaukee’s sports science group is also involved, and head coach Mike Budenholzer has been attending practices and games.
“It feels like it’s reached a level of cooperation that is pretty high-level,” Budenholzer said. “I don’t think we, either side, has really ever had that before, and so it gives you more confidence that he can compete for his national team, which is very important to him, and still be taking care of himself and still be preparing and getting ready for the NBA season, which is the best of both worlds.”
The relationship between the Bucks and the Greek team wasn’t nearly this friendly before Budenholzer arrived in Milwaukee, Nehm adds. The most famous incident occurred during the last EuroBasket in 2017 when Antetokounmpo announced that he wouldn’t be available to play because of a knee injury that the Bucks’ medical staff discovered. The Greek Basketball Federation accused him of colluding with the team to skip the competition, although an NBA investigation determined that all protocols in the NBA-FIBA agreement were followed correctly.
Budenholzer believes players benefit from international competitions, saying he learned the value during his days as an assistant in San Antonio when Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were regulars on the international stage.
There’s more on the Bucks:
- Sandro Mamukelashvili, who was on a two-way contract last season, is making his international debut in EuroBasket with Georgia’s national team, Nehm adds. At 6’11”, he’s out of position as the starting small forward, but he’s doing his best to fit in. “Coming here, there are guys that have been playing on the national team for 10 years plus, 15 years,” Mamukelashvili said. “So, coming in, you just gotta find your role, find how you can help the team.”
- Bucks assistant Charles Lee is thrilled to be taking part in a Basketball Without Borders camp in Cairo, Egypt, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I’ve always wanted to be part of this initiative and event because of what it does just for our game and what it’s doing for kids in Africa and giving them the resources and the experience to get some quality coaching, some quality game reps and some quality teaching in a four-day period,” Lee said. “This whole thing has just been an unbelievable experience for me to be a part of.”
- Steve Kerr, who’s among five NBA head coaches participating in the Basketball Without Borders camp, told the Egyptian media outlet FilGoal that Antetokounmpo is the non-Warrior he would most like to coach (Twitter link).