ATHENS, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Yannis Bouroussis, the 33-year old captain of Greece's national basketball team, became this summer the second ever Greek player to sign up with a Chinese basketball team.
In July the 2.15 meters tall center, with a remarkable 16-year professional career in Greece and abroad, signed a two-year contract with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.
Before packing his luggage to move to China, Bouroussis talked to Xinhua reporters in Athens on Thursday evening about his decision to continue his career in China, his expectations and goals and the role of sports as a bridge between nations.
"From the moment I chose to be released from my previous team, Panathinaikos, and get to choose the next stage in my career, I consciously went there," the player said during a break from training with the Greek National Basketball Team at the Athens Olympic Stadium OAKA.
At the main venue of the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Greek players train for the next Euro Basket competition. Greek media had queued to talk to the team's captain about his transfer to China.
Speaking to Xinhua Bouroussis explained that the idea was on his mind for a long time and he was in contact with the Chinese team over the past two years.
Until early this July he was playing for Greek team Panathinaikos. In 2001 he started with AEK in the Greek Basketball League. He has also played for Olympiakos of Piraeus in Greece, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Laboral Kutxa Baskonia in Spain and Pallacanestro Olimpia Milano in Italy.
Bouroussis has celebrated winning several national championships. In 2015 he celebrated winning the 2014-2015 season Euro League championship with Real Madrid.
As a member of the Greek national basketball team he has also won the gold medal at the 2002 FIBA Europe under-20 championship and the gold medal at the 2005 Euro Basket.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bouroussis was a key member of the Greek national team that ranked fifth.
"I have been to China in the past two times with the national team and Real to participate in some tournaments. The style of basketball they are playing is the same. It is not something different. It is closer to the NBA style; therefore it will not be difficult for me to adjust gradually in the way they play the game," he told Xinhua.
Bouroussis follows in the footsteps of Loukas Mavrokefalidis who last year became the first Greek basketball player joining a Chinese basketball association club. Mavrokefalidis signed with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles for the 2016-2017 season.
Bouroussis will soon travel to China determined to offer his best to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.
"My expectations are to go there and if possible to help take the team to the finals of the Chinese basketball championship, since last year they ranked fourth. Certainly (I expect) to adjust soon so I can contribute to the team," he told Xinhua.
"It is a lifetime experience. It may be a bit difficult in the beginning, but I will adjust," he said regarding his expectations about everyday life in China.
The Greek player will travel to China determined to do his best, acting also as an informal ambassador of Greek sports and Greece to his new home over the next two years. He believes in the strengthening of Sino-Greek friendship and cooperation in the sports field as well as in other sectors.
"Whatever is positive for our country, whatever promotes our country is good," he said, underlining the power of sports to link people.
"Sports always connect the entire world... And this is the essence of sports, to connect all countries" he stressed.