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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 3 October 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 2015 29 SPORT Thanasis Antetokounmpo vying for last roster spot Older brother of Giannis embracing opportunities in quest to play for New York Knicks NICK METALLINOS Thanasis Antetokounmpo hears the comparisons to his younger brother Giannis, but instead of wilting under the pressure, Thanasis is embracing the challenge and is using his brother's feats as motivation to succeed. "I wouldn't say [I feel] pressure, I'd say motivation 'cause I know my brother, and I know my abilities skill-wise and athleticism," Thanasis told Neos Kosmos. "In this league you have to have athleticism above everything else so it's been motivation for me." Antetokounmpo entered this week's training camp with the New York Knicks vying alongside three other players for the one remaining spot on the team’s regular season roster. Originally drafted by the New York Knicks with the 51st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, Antetokounmpo spent trol and sustain his energy on defence and be a consistent scoring threat". last season working on his game with the team's development squad, the Westchester Knicks, in the D-League. The NBA team retained his rights through the 2014-15 season and then formally signed him to a two-year, partially guaranteed deal in August. Antetokounmpo called his call-up "a blessing". "It was a blessing. You know, I've tried a lot for two years now in the Development League [so] it was amazing to me to get a call-up [to the NBA]," said Antetokounmpo during the Knicks' media day in New York on Monday. Antetokounmpo was initially drafted as a project by the Knicks, but quickly displayed an activity level playing in the D-League that caught the eye of president Phil Jackson, who told ESPN.com that Thanasis "has a great motor, which can lead to some hyperactivity. His key is learning how to con- Antetokounmpo understands that he's viewed as a defensive specialist, but to become a rotation player in the NBA, he'll need to polish his raw offensive game, Jackson noted. "First of all, for me being in the NBA, I'm a defensive specialist," says Antetokounmpo. "I play defence first of all, and then whatever I do offensively is a plus so I just put one thing at a time - that's my shot, next thing is the way I pass the ball …. you just go one thing at a time. I think I'm getting better everyday." There were loud calls from media and fans alike last season for Antetokounmpo to be called up from the D-League amidst the Knicks' worst season ever, and although he would have jumped at the opportunity, Thanasis admits having a complete preseason under his belt with NBA teammates is more beneficial to his growth. "If I had been given an opportunity I would have taken it, but it's really good for me to start at the beginning [of the season] at training camp, get to know everybody, get to know the vets, the superstars Thanasis Antetokounmpo in New York. and everybody," stated Antetokounmpo. Still, nothing is guaranteed in the cut-throat world of the NBA, and Antetokounmpo is no certainty to nab that final roster spot, although he has more pro experience than the other players he's competing against, which will make him the slight favourite. Thanasis will draw on some of that experience, and he also attributes time spent watching the Greek national team last year as crucial to his growth as a basketball player. "I've learned a lot [watching the national team]," Antetokounmpo told Neos Kosmos during our interview in the Big Apple. "It's a different culture of basketball, but slower and a bit more tactical, system-wise. [There's] great personalities in Euro League play and national team, so it's a blessing for me to get to see them." And if things go well, could we see Thanasis team up with his brother and the rest of the national team at the Olympics next year? "Hopefully I'm ready [to play], and everything's good [and] I'm healthy and by God's grace, I'll make the Olympics." Blatter to continue til February Beveridge named AFL coach of the year FIFA boss tells colleagues he has done nothing illegal Sepp Blatter has insisted he will remain on as FIFA boss until February, after Swiss authorities opened an investigation against him over alleged criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds. Blatter is suspected of a "dis- loyal payment" in the vicinity of $2.94 million to UEFA president Michel Platini for his work as an adviser to FIFA. The FIFA president defended the payment, telling authorities Platini "had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA" and that payments were valid for his work, which FIFA president Sepp Blatter (L) with UEFA president Michel Platini (R). PHOTO: PATRICK B. KRAEMER/KEYSTONE VIA AP. his lawyer said "were properly accounted for within FIFA". Platini has offered to talk to FIFA's ethics committee to clear up any confusion relating to the payment. "I wish to clarify that for the period 1998 to 2002, I was employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football," Platini said. "It was a full-time job and my functions were known by all. The remuneration was agreed at the time and after initial payments were made, the final outstanding amount of two million Swiss francs was paid in February of 2011. "This income has all been fully declared by me to the authorities, in accordance with Swiss law." Blatter will resign from his position as president after elections in February. Greek Team of the Century member heralded for Western Bulldogs’ transformation Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was awarded the AFL Coaches Association senior coach of the year award after guiding his side to unthinkable heights in season 2015. Beveridge polled 365 votes, and pipped second-placed West Coast coach Adam Simpson to get the gong. The Western Bulldogs finished 14th last year, but made an elimination final after placing sixth at the end of the 2015 home-and-away season, only to lose to Adelaide in a tight seven-point loss at the MCG. Beveridge, whose grandfather originates from Samos, was humbled after receiving Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge. the honour. "It's a huge honour, and mainly because it is voted by your peers. "It takes a bit for me to have any tension in my relationships, so when I took over I tried to get the message across that it was going to be a supportive coaching tenure. "What all our coaches and staff have done for our club PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/JULIAN SMITH has been great and it allows us to start 2016 on a better platform," he said. After his first season as Bulldogs coach, Beveridge's record sits on 14 wins and nine losses. His playing career spanned 11 years, where he featured for Melbourne, Footscray and St Kilda.
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