Giannis Antetokounmpo became Greek basketball’s highest placement in the NBA draft after being picked at number 15 by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 18-year-old Greek of Nigerian origin plied his trade at Filathlitikos in Greece’s second-tier league until this season, but has now shot to fame after being handed the number 34 jersey at the Bucks.
This forms just another chapter in the amazing story of the Antetokounmpo family from Nigeria, which migrated to Greece 24 years ago. Antetokounmpo had a hard upbringing in Sepolia, west of Athen’s city center, but it improved when he and his three brothers chose to try out in basketball.
They joined the Zografou club of Filathlitikos and grew with it, taking the previously unheard of team to the verge of reaching the top flight this spring.
Giannis, the best basketball offspring of the Antetokounmpo family to date, stands at a whopping 2.06 meters, which easily boosted his scoring skill.
Basketball federation head Giorgos Vassilakopoulos secured him a Greek basketball identity card that allowed the player and his brothers to play in the Greek A2 division.
Antetokounmpo himself stressed the importance of the decision a few months ago by the then Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, when he single-handedly cut corners to ensure the 18-year-old got a Greek passport as soon as possible.
This made amends for previous delays by authorities, but his love for the country he was born in became evident when he raised the Greek flag upon hearing his name during the draft process last week. Antetokounmpo is also the youngest player in the 2013 NBA draft.
Meanwhile another Greek international, Kosta Koufos moved from the Denver Nuggets to Memphis Grizzlies in the draft.