Rick Pitino is now one win away from taking Greece to 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Rick Pitino is now one win away from taking Greece to 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Article written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan

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Rick-Pitino
<small>(Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)<small>
[caption id="attachment_358098" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)[/caption] The Rick Pitino career arc is going to make one hell of a 30-for-30 documentary one day. Currently stepping in as the head coach of the Greece Men's National Team, Pitino, the former Kentucky Men's Basketball, is now just one win away from taking his squad to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After Greece upset Turkey handily on Saturday by a final count of 81-63, they're now on the cusp of earning an automatic qualifying bid to the Olympics if they can defeat the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon. Greece is one of six teams fighting for one just one spot at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Victoria, Canada. https://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/1411497294772453379 https://twitter.com/DShulman_ESPN/status/1411494241126293505 Greece got off to a slow start against Turkey, who were the favorites coming into the contest, but battled back in the second half to blow the game wide open. "We were nervous in the first half, and I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times," Pitino said after the win. "You go out, you have wide-open shots, you don’t make it, you get tight, it bothers you. And I told them, ‘Just play defense,’ and all I kept reiterating at halftime and timeouts is, ‘Please don’t relax. We’re going to get the lead early in the third quarter, don’t relax.'” Greece is without two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and is also missing a handful of its top players. For them to make it this far was not what international hoops experts had predicted. Canada, with former Kentucky Wildcats Trey Lyles and Mychal Mulder along with multiple NBA players, was viewed as the odds-on favorite to win the group, but Coach Pitino had other plans. Pitino's team was powered by 18 points, six assists, and six rebounds from former Florida Gator Nick Calathes -- who Pitino once claimed was "best passer [he'd] seen in his lifetime" -- while Georgios Papagiannis and Konstantinos Mitoglou both contributed double-doubles. The Greek National squad will have a shot at making the 2020 Olympics later today at 7:05 p.m. EST against the Czech Republic. The game will air on ESPN+. https://youtu.be/3XGBdUcTVc0?t=583

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2021-10-26