F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 04.03.2003

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Greece stocks up on new talent ahead of the Olympics

The Hellenic National Men's Volleyball team will go to the 2003 World League with the same 12 key players who represented their country at the 2002 World Championship in Argentina, but the 18-man lineup already announced has been refreshed with a brace of young talents players from the junior national team. These include Nick Smaragdis (middle-blocker), George Stefanou (libero), Theoklitos Karipidis (wing-spiker), Stathis Ntonas (opposite) and Kostas Prousalis (setter), as well as possibly Andrej Kravarik. With one eye firmly on the 2004 Olympics at home in Athens, national coach Stelios Prosalikas considers that this year is 'transition' and understandably he wants to rest some of his stars from too much competition so that they are in peak condition for their home Olympics next year. The Greek team is making its seventh appearance in the World League and aim at making good impression, something that should be easy for them as they were already impressing observers at top 2002 competitions. They also want to do the best for their loyal fans in the pre-Olympic season. The Greek Volleyball fans will have high expectations of the team this year, and of the new players - especially Andrej Kravarik, who has been playing in Greek clubs for ten years. "Our team has a lot of possibilities to play in the ''final eight'', in spite of the fact that there can be a decrease in the number of our core players," said Prosalikas, who expects his team to finish better than the ninth place they have achieved in the past two editions. He also expects strong support from the Greek fans who are great World League enthusiasts. Greece meets France, Argentina and Japan in Pool D in the Intercontinental Round. "I think France is the group favorite," said Prosalikas, but he added that Greece, Argentina and Japan all have a good chance to finish on top. "Participation in the World League has helped our team a lot and we consider our presence valuable, but we don't want to be tired at the Olympic Games, so we don't wish to have many games," the coach cautioned. He said his players were also very busy with their clubs. "People must not forget that we are a small country and there is not many of our top players," the coach added. The Greek team finished 11th in the World League in 1993, seventh in 1994, ninth in 1995, eleventh in 1996 and moved up to ninth in 2001 and 2002.


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