Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Greece to first Olympics berth in 16 years with win over Croatia

Greece beat Ivica Zubac and Croatia 80-69 on Sunday in the finals of their Olympic qualifying tournament

For the first time in his career, Giannis Antetokounmpo is headed to the Olympics.

Antetokounmpo led the Greek national team to an 80-69 win over Croatia in the final of their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Sunday in Piraeus, Greece. The win officially earned Greece a spot in the Olympics for the first time in 16 years.

Naturally, the Milwaukee Bucks star was emotional on the court realizing he is headed to Paris later this month.

Antetokounmpo — who was born in Athens after his parents immigrated there from Nigeria — has been a mainstay on the Greek national team for years now, but the country has largely struggled in international competition. This summer, however, they rolled through their qualifying tournament, which was one of four being held to determine the rest of the field for the Paris Olympics.

Antetokounmpo dropped 13 points in their 28-point blowout win over Luka Dončić and Slovenia in the semifinals on Saturday. Slovenia finished in fourth at the 2020 Olympics, but now will miss these Games completely. Antetokounmpo finished with 23 points and had eight rebounds in Sunday’s win over Croatia, which was anchored by longtime Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is headed to the Olympics for the first time in his career.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is headed to the Olympics for the first time in his career. (Aris Messinis/AFP)

Greece will now get to compete in the Olympics for the first time since 2008, when they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by China.

Brazil, Puerto Rico and Spain won their respective qualifying tournaments to earn spots in Paris. France, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Sudan, Japan, Serbia and Germany had already qualified.

Antetokounmpo averaged 30.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, though they were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs for a second straight season after bringing in head coach Doc Rivers midway through the year.

Antetokounmpo and Greece will compete in Group A in Paris alongside Canada, Australia and Spain. Their first game is set for July 27 against Canada.