As the country slept and the month of September emerged, for a brief moment the world stood still. The unthinkable had happened.
The untouchable U.S. National team, with such notable names as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony, had lost in the semifinals of the FIBA world championship to Greece.
In 2006 they caught the world by surprise, but two years later the Greek National team is as strong as ever, and when they play the U.S. again in their second game of the Olympic tournament the following names should not fool you twice.
PG Vassilis Spanoulis (6'4"): The three-time Greek All-Star, also known as "Kill Bill" and "V-Span," is known for his brief stint in the NBA with the Houston Rockets in 2006 after his 22 point outburst in the infamous upset. Spanoulis is the primary point guard for the Greeks and relies on his quickness and athleticism to get into the lane and dish the ball out to his open teammates on the perimeter.
He is a very good distributor of the basketball, but is capable of generating his own offense and is not shy to pull the trigger. He is not a terrific shooter from range, but will knock down open shots and can be dangerous when he gets hot. His tenacity on the defensive end is what really seperates Spanoulis, for he will constantly challenge opposing offensive players and fight for steals and loose balls.
Spanoulis was just twenty-four when he lead his team in the upset over the U.S., but now two years older, expect Spanoulis to make good decisions and use his experience to lead this years team through example.
C Sofoklis Schortsanitis (6'10") : "Baby Shaq" (shown above) was the X-factor in the game against the U.S. where he was able to use his size and strength to dominate opposing bigs and score 14 points off of a 6-of-7 shooting performance.
At 375 pounds, Schortsanitis is a handful in the lane and uses effective drop steps and footwork to get close shots near the basket. Though he does not seem like the most mobile athlete, Schorsanitis is deceptively quick and constantly moves without the ball, sets picks, and plays with high energy. Schortsanitis can be a game-changer who can control the tempo of the game with his presence on the glass and in the paint.
G Dimitris Diamantidis (6'5") : Diamantidis is a four-time Greek League Champion and MVP. A dangerous and crafty force on the offensive-end, Diamantidis will spend time at point-guard and run the team through his excellent passing and decision making.
Always a triple-threat whenever he has the ball, he is the Greek team's biggest threat from three-point range. He will never miss when left open. Diamantidis is an enormous asset to his team, as he is not only an offensive catalyst for himself, but for those around him. He has been playing professional basketball since the age of 19 and his decision making and leadership skills are unquestionable.
Other Notable Names: G Thodoris Papaloukas, F Michealis Pelekanos, F Antonis Fotsis, G Nikos Sizis