This past Thursday, February 12th, The Hellenic Federation of Basketball hosted an awards ceremony that honored Greek NBA and Greek National Team basketball players, at the Greek Consulate in New York City.
Honorees included NBA Houston Rockets player Kostas Papanikolaou, NBA Milwaukee Bucks & Greek National Basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, and NBA Memphis Grizzlies players Nick Calathes and Kostas Koufos. New Greek TV President Yanna Darilis served as the Master of Ceremonies.
As Papanikolau stated while receiving his award from Greek-American Sacramento Kings Operations President Matina Kolokotronis, "It's a rare opportunity for us to find ourselves in a place with so many Greeks. Maybe it does not seem important for some, but it is a very big thing for us to receive this love." The other three professional basketball stars were not present to receive their awards, due to their scheduled NBA training commitments during All Star week.
Prominent professional players also participated in the commemorations, including Greek baller and politician Panagiotis Fasoulas, who currently serves as the EEC International Relations Officer, Hellenic Federation coach Nikos Katsikaris, and retired Sacramento Kings and PAOK Greek-Serbian star Peja Stojakovic. Many leading Greek and Greek-Americans attended the festivities as well, including Emmy Award winning Fox news anchor Ernie Anastos, Fox Business Network anchor Nicole Petallides, and singer Themis Adamantidis. Kellari Taverna's Executive Chef Nikos Poulmentis cooked for the event.
Katsikaris declared during the evening, "I would define myself as 'Ellinaras'. The only thing missing would be to wear a ... foustanela! By this I mean that I am very proud that I am Greek and I believe a lot in Greek players. I think it fits perfectly with what we all believe: that the Greeks, no matter where in the world they are located and whatever field they are employed in, excel. I feel this even more, ever since I became coach of the National Basketball Team." Honorary plaques were granted to Greek Consulate General Georgios Iliopoulos, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, received by its Press Officer Stavros Papagermanos, and New Greek TV, that was accepted on its behalf by President Yanna Darilis.
In addition to honoring the Greek athletes, the event showcased the Greek Basketball National Team's history and achievements. The Hellenic Federation of Basketball's President George Vassilakopoulos aims to enhance relations between Greece and its diaspora in America, while the Federation's future goal is to develop a nonprofit foundation, The Hellenic Academic Athletic Fasoulas Foundation (HAFF), that will offer support services to Greek students. HAFF has been a longtime dream of Greek professional basketball player and politician Panagiotis Fasoulas, who trained and studied in the States.