Janis Adetokunbo, whose surname means ‘king returning from beyond the sea’ in the Nigerian Yoruba language, did not play in the decisive battle to advance in Tokyo. In Milwaukee, he advanced to the NBA Finals with Phoenix, which the Bucks won in six games and their support became the MVP of the series.
In retrospect, the club from Wisconsin can thank the care of its former general manager John Hammond, who coached a boy who had barely played basketball in six years at that time from the 15th 2013 draft pick.
Adetokunba’s parents, Charles and Veronica, went to Europe in the early 1990s to seek their fortune, leaving their eldest son Francis in the care of his grandmother in Nigeria. Four more children were born to them in Athens: Thanasis, Janis, Kostas and Alex. It was difficult for the father, who worked as a maintenance worker, to find work, and the sons also contributed to the family budget by selling cheap sunglasses to tourists.
Although Janis was born in Greece, she was constantly under threat of deportation because she had no documents. And he didn’t get his Greek passport, where they wrote Giannis Antetokounmpo’s name, less than two months before the draft.
Adetonkunb’s remarkable basketball career, however, began inconspicuously by watching a group of boys shoot a basket in the Athenian suburb of Sepolia. His development was connected to the Filathlitikos club, although in the beginning it was the older brother Thanasis who was more promising and promising, as the biopic Vzestup also describes.
Sometimes Janis sleeps on a gym mattress. On the one hand, so that he would not waste time traveling by bus and start training in the morning, and then he also wanted to avoid confrontations with the followers of the Golden Dawn movement, who organized a hunt for immigrants on the streets of Athens.
“Give it your all and then let God do his work,” the mother advised her son before the draft, which changed the family’s life 180 degrees.
Abroad, they struggled to read the promising newcomer’s name, so the nickname ‘Greek Freak’ was quickly acquired.
“I was born in Greece and I studied there. But when I came home, we lived according to African traditions. Although they probably won’t understand me in Nigeria, there are about 250 dialects in the country,” explained Adetokunbo, who was modeled after Lagos-born two-time NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon.
But Janis herself is very strange. The speed at which he can run across the field in a few steps is terrifying to his opponents. Also the length and length of his arms. And in his palm the basketball is like a handball.
“It’s a trick of nature,” agrees quarterback Tomáš Satoranský.
At the 2019 World Cup, Adetokunbo contributed twelve points in Greece’s 84:77 win over the Czech Republic, but it was not enough to advance to the quarterfinals. In addition, the biggest star was fouled out when he had a big problem with the international rules and tight defense of the pair Martin Kříž-Pavel Pumprla.
However, three years later, the two-time NBA MVP seems like a titan without a weakness. In the Eurobasket, he averaged 29 points per game. And although there was talk about his leg injury after a bad move from the match against Estonia, the Czechs should not count on the fact that it will somehow slow down the Nigerian play of nature in the services of the Greek .