MILAN/ATHENS (EuroBasket/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Andrea Trinchieri just started his job with the Greek national team, but already the Italian coach knows very well his duties and goals.
"When you step into the Greek Federation's headquarters, you see a lot of historical pictures, and you can easily understand the importance of this country for European basketball," he said.
"Pressure and expectations don't scare Greece. This country got used to dealing with pressure, as Hellenic teams won four out of the latest seven Euroleague editions."
At the EuroBasket, the 45-year-old Trinchieri is going to live his first experience as a national team coach, after four positive seasons with Cantu, winning the 2012 Italian Supercup.
And the draw for the tournament taking place in Slovenia from 4 to 22 September has brought Trinchieri against his home country, as Greece will be in Group D, with Italy but also Russia, Turkey, Sweden and Finland.
"The game against Italy will be an emotional moment, especially the pre-game anthems," said Trinchieri. "But then we will need to think about a tough opponent. Italy lines up three NBA players like Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome, and the whole first round group will be difficult."
But at the same time, Greece will be one of the most ambitious teams. Even after Dimitris Diamantidis's farewell to the national team, and despite the absence of Kosta Koufos - and maybe Nick Calathes, who is questionable as he is expected to make his NBA debut with the Memphis Grizzlies - the Hellenic team will still feature a lot of talent, experience and depth.
Trinchieri knows he can start from two big references, Nikos Zisis (who will play for the Italian coach with Russian club Unics Kazan next season) and Vassilis Spanoulis.
"Zisis is an unselfish player, he is loved and respected because of his 'team-first' mentality. Spanoulis is a three-time Euroleague Final Four MVP, what else can I say about him?,” he offered.
Talking about ambitions, Trinchieri added: "It's early to talk about targets, but everyone plays for the biggest prize. We were asked to play for a medal, it's a target able to motivate our players. The most important days will be September 18th and 19th, when the Quarter-Finals will take place, deciding the run for the podium."
But the Italian coach thinks about the future, too. And the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup can be the horizon for Greece, who were runners-up at the 2006 edition of the tournament in Japan. The six top-placed teams (excluding World Cup hosts Spain) at EuroBasket will qualify for the World Cup.
"The World Cup can be a primary target for us. But at the EuroBasket we will find a lot of rivals," Trinchieri went on.
"I think about Spain, France, Turkey, Slovenia, Italy, just to make some examples. We need to work and find out our balance.
"We will communicate with English, but I am learning some Greek, too. The first word I learned? Obviously 'amina' - defense."