NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo drops out of FIBA World Cup to continue recovery from knee surgery

Giannis Antetokounmpo6

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Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will not represent his native country Greece at this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup tournament, which tips off later this month.

The Milwaukee Bucks star had minor surgery on his left knee earlier this summer. On Friday, he revealed that he would not be able to play in the World Cup given the state of his physical condition. 

Antetokounmpo, who was born in Athens, said that his medical team also advised him not to compete. The Greek national basketball team is scheduled to play the U.S., Jordan and New Zealand in group-stage games in Manila, Philippines, in the tournament, which starts Aug. 25 in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo on the bench

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo sits on the bench after a loss to the Miami Heat at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on April 26, 2023. (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports)

“Everyone knows my passion and love for my national team has and never will change,” Antetokounmpo said in a statement Friday. 

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The seven-time All-Star also said that his rehab process has been underway since the Bucks’ season came to an end. 

“Since the conclusion of my NBA season I have been pushing my body to the limits to be the player I need to be to help our team achieve the goals we set. But after months of work and multiple meetings with medical staff it is clear that I am not ready to compete in the level that I need to be to participate in the World Cup,” he said.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles the ball

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball in the first half of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on March 4, 2023. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old was sidelined for 19 games during the 2022-23 regular season, with 11 of those due to knee issues.

Antetokounmpo underwent a procedure to clean up loose cartilage in the knee, and the Bucks said they believe the procedure went well. The team hopes Antetokounmpo will be ready to go by training camp, which is scheduled to begin in just over a month. The NBA regular season is set to start in late October.

Giannis Antetokounmpo holds the trophy

Giannis Antetokounmpo holds up the winning team trophy after the NBA All-Star Game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Feb. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

His absence will further hurt the star power of this year’s World Cup, which takes place every four years. Only two members of this past season’s All-NBA Team — Slovenia’s Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder — are slated to play in the tournament.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the 2021 NBA title. He averaged 31.1 points and 11.8 rebounds this past season.

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Antetokounmpo is eyeing a return to international basketball next year and hopes to represent Greece during the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“This was not a choice but my only option in ensuring I get back to the level of basketball I have worked so hard to achieve so far in my career.” he said. “I am extremely disappointed in this outcome but this was a decision made with the medical staff. I’m going to continue to push myself to be ready for the next time my name is called.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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