Former University of Kentucky and University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino could be on the sidelines at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
Pitino announced on Twitter Friday morning that he has accepted the job to coach the Greek national team. Greece, led by NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, will look to earn a spot in next year’s Olympics in a June qualifying tournament.
“Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team,” Pitino wrote on Twitter. “Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Prior to the announcement, he said he would coach Greece for free if offered the position, according to Eurohoops.net.
Earlier this year, Pitino coached EuroLeague’s Panathinaikos to the Greek Cup and Greek League championships. After his lone season with the team, he stepped down as he sought a full-time job in the NBA.
Greece finished 11th in the FIBA World Cup last summer. The top four in this June’s qualifiers will compete in the Olympics. The qualifying tournament is one of several to advance to the Olympics.
Greece last competed in the Olympic Games in 2008, finishing fifth.
“I’m doing this because of my love for Greece and the people,” he said Friday. “It will be very challenging but very rewarding. These players are all coming off professional years, so they are a little tired. Motivation is a big part of getting them ready. We will be ready.”
Pitino told reporters Friday morning he’ll spend most of the winter studying film once the brackets are out, ESPN reported.
Pitino won the national championship at Kentucky in 1996 and at Louisville in 2013. Louisville was ordered to vacate its 2013 championship as the result of NCAA violations.
After being fired from Louisville two years ago in the wake of a college basketball corruption scandal, Pitino and the university reached a settlement in September. As part of the settlement, his personnel record was changed to say he resigned.