Former American college basketball coach Rick Pitino has been announced as the head coach of Greece’s national basketball team.
The Hellenic Basketball Federation officially presented Pitino as the team’s new leader during a Monday press conference in Athens.
The announcement comes at a time when the Greek National Team remains in the race to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
During the press conference, Pitino said that his experience with Greek basketball players is distinct from others.
“In all my years of coaching I’ve interacted with some of the most wonderful, charismatic and outstanding athletes in the world of basketball. But the Greek basketball players stood out,” Pitino said. “They all have this special quality that I have not seen in my 40 plus years.”
Pitino added that Greek players have an “incredible pride” in their country.
The former Louisville head coach spent last season coaching Panathinaikos, whom he led to victory in Greece’s cup competition before returning to the United States.
Among other players, Pitino will join NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother and Milwaukee Bucks teammate Thanasis — both of whom play for team Greece.
Greece narrowly missed reaching the quarterfinals at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China in September.
Pitino spent much of his career alternating between college and the NBA. He has coached the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as well as Kentucky and Louisville.
He led Kentucky to an NCAA championship in 1996 and remains the only coach to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to a Final Four. In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Featured image / Hellenic Basketball Federation via Twitter
See full press conference
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