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GRE: Vasilopoulos: Be the best we can be! - Jul 10, 2008

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Although aged only 24, Panagotis Vasilopoulos (202-F-84, agency: FCM) is considered a veteran of the Greek national team. He was present in two great achievements, the captures of the gold medal in the 2005 European Championship in Belgrade and the silver medal in the 2006 World Championship in Japan, and also in the 2007 European Championship of Spain, which confirmed that Greece is again among the European elite to stay. He is back in the national team this summer, more mature and experienced, keeping the faith that despite all difficulties the Greek squad will once more reach its goals. He gave the following interview at Greek National Federation's site:
Q: This is the fourth consecutive year you are present in a Mens national team training camp. However, the circumstances this summer were kind of unusual.
P.V.: Certainly. To begin with, the basic preparation stage was just one week long. It went by too quickly. Moreover, several new guys were present, and we had to work all together to involve them as well, to make old and new faces click together as a group. All this happened in a great atmosphere, where everyone works hard for the national team. I am among the lucky ones who have experienced that in the past years, and we all want the new guys incorporated in that atmosphere and philosophy. And from their part, they have shown that they are all eager to adjust to the team and become part of it.
Q: Do you reckon that the presence of new faces may have helped in a way?
P.V.: The national team has done well with the players that had competed for it so far. On the other hand, when some players step down and new faces emerge, the change could be beneficial for the team and offer incentives to all players, new and old ones.
Q: You are still going to be all together in the friendly games that are about to start. What are you expecting from the first tournament in Germany?
P.V.: Friendly games are a totally different thing, and no easier than training camp. They are a difficult part as well, as we are going to see to what extent we can put into practice everything we have worked on. Its the hardest part of all, in fact. We want to and have to be the best we can be!
Q: Are you not tired after a hard season, which is essentially being prolonged?
P.V.: We will see There is indeed fatigue; I dont think anyone can deny that. It is a fact that we have accepted, though. Thank God the Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held in Greece, and we will not have to overcome the fatigue from a journey as well. Because Puerto Rico may be a great place to go on holiday, but at this point such a trip would not be the best ones asking for, with qualification for the Olympic Games at stake.
Q: Some consider the OQT easy to slip through, despite all players who have talked about it so far giving it a high degree of difficulty.
P.V.: Its not an easy mission. There are several good teams, and a crucial game: the knock-out game of the quarterfinals, which will determine almost everything. I have a reason to believe that we will succeed again in accomplishing what we are aiming at and be present at the Olympic Games.
Q: Apart from the comfort of not traveling abroad, could the fact that the OQT will be held in Athens be a factor of extra pressure for you?
P.V.: Of course not! All guys playing for the national team are top-class players. And all of us playing in Greece are used to that kind of pressure. So its natural not to be influenced. Besides, we have already set ourselves high goals for this team.

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Olympic Games Final Standings
 1. USA
 2. Serbia
 3. Spain
 4. Australia
 5. Croatia
 6. France
 7. Lithuania
 8. Argentina
 9. Brazil
 10. Venezuela
 11. Nigeria
 12. China
Stats Leaders
Points Per Game
  Avg: 24.8
 1. Bogdanovic, BIH24.8 
 2. Mills, AUS20.5 
 3. Yi, CHN20.4 
 4. Gasol, ESP19.4 
 5. Kalnietis, LTU19.2 
 6. Raduljica, SRB17.6 
 7. Durant, USA16.8 
 8. Campazzo, ARG16.4 
 9. Nocioni, ARG15.6 
 10. Ginobili, ARG15.2 
Rebounds Per Game
  Avg: 8.8
 1. Gasol, ESP8.8 
 2. Diogu, NGR8.6 
 3. Scola, ARG8.0 
 4. Saric, CRO7.2 
 5. Valanciunas, LTU6.8 
 6. Yi, CHN6.6 
 7. Hilario, BRA6.4 
 8. Lima, BRA6.3 
 9. Nocioni, ARG6.2 
 10. Gobert, FRA6.2 
Assists Per Game
  Avg: 8.6
 1. Dellavedova, AUS8.6 
 2. Kalnietis, LTU8.0 
 3. Huertas, BRA6.6 
 4. Irving, AUS6.0 
 5. Campazzo, ARG5.2 
 6. Heurtel, FRA5.0 
 7. Teodosic, SRB5.0 
 8. Guo, CHN4.8 
 9. Rodriguez, ESP4.8 
 10. Vargas, VEN4.6 
Steals Per Game
  Avg: 2.6
 1. Campazzo, ARG2.6 
 2. Vargas, VEN2.2 
 3. Hilario, BRA2.0 
 4. Fernandez, ESP2.0 
 5. De Colo, FRA1.6 
 6. Yi, CHN1.4 
 7. Maciulis, LTU1.4 
 8. Barbosa, BRA1.4 
 9. Zhou, CHN1.4 
 10. Rubio, ESP1.4 
Blocks Per Game
 Ekenechukwu IBEKWE
  Avg: 2.4
 1. Ibekwe, NGR2.4 
 2. Gobert, FRA2.0 
 3. Gasol, ESP2.0 
 4. Bogut, AUS1.8 
 5. Diogu, NGR1.2 
 6. Yi, CHN1.2 
 7. Valanciunas, LTU1.0 
 8. Javtokas, LTU1.0 
 9. Diaw, FRA1.0 
 10. Acuna, ARG1.0 
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