A Look Ahead at Greece

When the FIBA World Championship kicks off in Turkey this weekend, the Thunder will be the best represented NBA team there.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sharpe will don the red, white and blue for Team USA as they compete for the nation’s first world title since 1994.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo announced on Tuesday the final 12-man roster that will represent the country at the World Championship and the Thunder is the only team will multiple players onboard. Westbrook and Durant each earned player of the game honors in tune-ups against Lithuania and Spain, respectively, over the weekend.

With the roster in place, the U.S. contingent will play one final exhibition against Greece on Wednesday before it opens the tournament against Croatia on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the Greeks:


A Quick Word on the U.S.: Coach Mike Krzyzewski billed Wednesday’s exhibition against Greece as another chance for the Americans to get a better understanding of themselves and the international game before the games actually start to count.

The Americans are still adjusting to the nuances of the international game, from the physical play to the way traveling is called. Krzyzewski said they might experiment more with the zone defense against Greece.

The Skinny on Greece: A team noted for its chemistry and for persevering in the past even without its top players, Greece will be close to full strength against the Americans. One of their most electrifying players, Theo Papaloukas, will not play, although the Greeks won without him at last year’s EuroBasket. Greece already steamrolled Canada by more than 70 points and defeated Slovenia in a pair of exhibition games last week.

Greece won silver at the 2009 EuroBasket, took fifth at the 2008 Olympics and won silver at the 2006 World Championship, when it last played and defeated the U.S., 101-95. The U.S. is 3-1 all-time against Greece. v “I like their team because the Greeks have always played with great heart and great spirit,” Krzyzewski said.

Keep An Eye On: The one name you might be familiar with is guard Nicholas Calathes, who played college ball at Florida before coming overseas to play for Panathinaikos. Calathes led Greece with 16 points in a recent win over Slovenia.

Krzyzewski lauded guard Dimitris Diamantidis for his defense and passing ability; Diamantidis loves to drive and kick. Point guard Vassilis Spanoulis injured his hand in a game against Canada but came back the next day looking fine.

At 6-9, 344-pounds, Sofoklis Schortsanitis provides Greece with an inside presence along with seven-footer Ioannis Bourousis, both of who should give the Americans their biggest test in the frontcourt.

Contact Chris Silva