Former Greek basketball star Panagiotis Giannakis’ debut as coach of the Chinese national basketball team proved a flop when the club finished fifth in the Asian Championships that took place in the Phillippines.
He was roundly criticized by Hu Yasi, the Vice-President of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) who nonetheless extended his hand at the airport as Giannakis was preparing to leave. Giannakis refused to take it and brushed past Yasi.
That came as Giannakis was leaving China en route home to Greece and was recorded by TV crews on the scene. China, an Olympic powerhouse in many sports, is a traditional underperformer in basketball on the world stage and had hoped to change that with Giannakis, 54, a long-time star and coach in Greek basketball. China had won the Asian championships 15 times, however.
China’s fifth-place finish left it out of the 2014 FIBA World Championships. Yasi had criticized Giannakis’ handling of the Chinese team whose roster had changed in the last few years but was still expected to compete. Giannakis said shortly before leaving China to return to Greece: “I love Chinese basketball, I hope to come back. Thanks for everything, see you soon”.