Giannis Antetokounmpo announced Friday he will be unable to compete for Greece in the upcoming FIBA World Cup as he continues to recover from an offseason knee surgery.
The Greek national team had already termed Antetokounmpo’s participation as doubtful after he missed the team’s training camp and its first several exhibition games. But there was hope that the two-time MVP might get clearance after a scheduled return to the United States this week for follow-up meetings with doctors.
The outcome impacts Team USA, which was drawn into the same pool as Greece at the World Cup and the countries that will play Aug. 28 in Manila, Philippines. Greece famously upset the Americans at the 2006 World Cup in Japan. Team USA and Greece are also scheduled to play a warmup game next week in Abu Dhabi.
The Milwaukee Bucks announced last month that Antetokounmpo underwent a procedure on his left knee to clean up loose cartilage. The Bucks, who were eliminated in the first round by the Miami Heat in April, didn’t specify exactly when Antetokounmpo had the operation. But the superstar made it known he tried to find a way to be ready to play in the World Cup.
The prize many teams in the World Cup are chasing are the valuable Olympic berths for next year in Paris. A total of seven will be awarded based on World Cup performance with an eighth spot automatically going to the host nation, France. The other four spots will be determined by qualifying tournaments next summer.
Greece didn’t qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and Antetokounmpo has never competed on that vaunted stage.