By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play for Greece at the Basketball World Cup that starts later this month, with the Milwaukee Bucks star saying Friday he and his medical advisers decided that he’s simply not ready to compete.
Antetokounmpo had surgery on his left knee earlier this summer.
Greece will play the U.S., Jordan and New Zealand in group-stage games at Manila in the tournament, which starts Aug. 25 in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.
“Everyone knows my passion and love for my national team has and never will change,” Antetokounmpo wrote in a statement Friday. “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.”
Antetokounmpo missed 19 regular-season games for the Bucks this past season, 11 of those because of left knee soreness. The Bucks have said they believe the clean-up surgery on his knee went well and that they expect him to be ready for training camp, which starts in about seven weeks.
His absence will further hurt the star power of this World Cup. Only two members of this past season’s All-NBA team — Slovenia’s Luka Doncic of Dallas and Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Oklahoma City — are slated to play in the tournament.
Antetokounmpo is a seven-time All-Star, two-time NBA MVP and led the Bucks to the 2021 NBA title. He averaged 31.1 points and 11.8 rebounds this past season.
He said he wants to play with Greece at 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.” Antetokounmpo 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.”