POSTED: Friday March 4th 2011

Zouros named coach of Greece

ATHENS (EuroBasket 2011) - Greece on Friday confirmed that Ilias Zouros will lead the national team this summer when it attempts to earn a third straight trip to an Olympic Games.

Zouros has taken over the spot that has been vacant since the expiration of Jonas Kazlauskas’ two-year deal after last summer’s FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Now at the helm of BC Zalgiris, Zouros said his appointment as Greece coach will have no effect on his position with the Lithuanian club.

Zouros was named Eurocup Coach of the Year in 2009-10 after guiding Panellinios to a surprise appearance in the last four.

He left the Greek club after last season and was only recently put in charge of Zalgiris, shortly before the start of the Euroleague Top 16.

Zalgiris finished their Top 16 campaign on Thursday night when they lost for the fifth time in six games.

With Greece, Zouros has one of the top jobs in international basketball.

The Greeks are fourth in the FIBA World Rankings.

In a statement published on the Greek Basketball Federation website, Zouros said: “It’s a big honour and responsibility at the same time.

“My aim is to maintain the national team at the highest level, where it is and has been for so many years.”

Zouros will guide Greece against Croatia, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and an additional qualifier (either Hungary, Finland or Portugal) in Group C of the EuroBasket.

The finalists will qualify for the London Games.

Greece have been one of the big stories in international basketball since Athens 2004, when they hosted the Olympics and reached the Quarter-Finals under Panagiotis Yannakis.

The following year, Greece travelled to Serbia and Montenegro and won the gold medal at EuroBasket 2005.

Yannakis took the Greeks to Japan and led them to a stunning 101-95 upset of the United States in the Semi-Finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

They lost to Spain in the gold-medal game.

At EuroBasket 2007 in Madrid, Greece fell to Spain in the Semi-Finals and then slipped up against Lithuania in the bronze-medal game but still took one of the three Beijing Games places up for grabs the next summer at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In China, Greece reached the Quarter-Finals but suffered a narrow defeat in the closing seconds to Argentina.

Kazlauskas replaced Yannakis at the helm and steered the Greeks to EuroBasket 2009 bronze but last summer, the national team endured a disappointing FIBA World Championship in Turkey, exiting the competition at the Eight-Finals in a loss to nemesis Spain.

One of the lynchpins in the Greece team from 2004-08 was Theo Papaloukas, who played for Zouros at Olympiacos.

Papaloukas, who may return to the national team after a two-year break, had this to say about Zouros when speculation was rife that he would be the next coach.

"He was the coach of Olympiacos (January 2000-02) and was a great coach," Papaloukas said.

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Keywords · FIBA · International · Basketball · Greece · Ilias Zouros · FIBA World Championship · Turkey · Panellinios · Eurocup

Name: Fiba
Organization: FIBA
Phone: +41 (0)22 545 00 00

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