ATHENS (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Key members of Greece's national team have welcomed changes to FIBA's calendar that will reduce player workload by up to 26 per cent over a four-year cycle.
FIBA is showing respect to the players and proving they don't look on them as robots. - Greece point guard Kostas SloukasFIBA's new calendar, which was unanimously approved by all of FIBA's National Member Federations in 2014, comes into effect in November.
"FIBA is showing respect to the players and proving they don't look on them as robots," said Greek point guard Kostas Sloukas.
The changes mean that, in addition to reduced preparation commitments for national team competitions, players will also have one free summer every four years.
This, Sloukas said, is 'a very smart decision'.
"Apart from days off, it gives players the chance to develop skills and work on the weak points of their game," the 27-year-old argued. "Players know they need to progress and they don’t have the time to do it during the season."
Kostas Papanikolaou echoed the sentiments of his teammate on the Greek national side.
"Rest is important as we are not machines," he stated. "If you have a day off during the season, you use it to rest. But a free summer gives us not only the chance to take a breath but to get better as individuals through personal work on skills which can't be developed during the season.
"I think this recognizes the devotion of all the players to their national teams and it is beautiful because it will help players have more years as top-quality athletes."
Under the old system, top players could be in year-round action with national team commitments to fulfil when the demanding club season finished.
Some players have even expressed their concern at the lack of days off, indicating this is not only potentially bad for their on-court performance but for their family and personal lives as well.
While FIBA's new calendar will have a dramatic and beneficial impact, it is not the first time basketball's world governing body has listened to the players and reacted.
The number of games played at FIBA EuroBasket to reach the Final has been reduced from 11 games in 2013 to 9 in 2015. The 2017 edition of Europe's biggest basketball competition will have two additional days off, as part of a schedule that offers more rest for players and guarantees that the maximum number of consecutive game days for every team is limited to two.