BEIJING (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - China have at last confirmed that Panagiotis Giannakis is to coach their national team.
The 54-year-old, who guided his native Greece to gold at EuroBasket 2005 and silver at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, replaces Bob Donewald after the American's contract expired following the 2012 Olympics.
China edged Jordan to win the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship under Donewald and qualify for London but they lost all five games at the Olympics.
The Far East giants had reached the Quarter-Finals at the previous two Olympics in Athens and Beijing under coaches Del Harris and Jonas Kazlauskas, respectively.
The first big tournament for Giannakis at the helm of China will be later this year at the FIBA Asia Championship in the Philippines, a qualifying event for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
"The former Greek national team boss will be the national team coach," the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) said in a statement.
The expectation is that Giannakis will remain in charge for four years and "actively prepare" the Chinese team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Giannakis is no stranger to Chinese basketball fans.
A great player who helped Greece upset the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union to capture gold at the 1987 European Championship in Athens, Giannakis has been even more famous in his two stints at the helm of the national team.
In his second run, he was hugely successful after guiding the Greeks to a come-from-behind victory over France in the Semi-Finals of EuroBasket 2005 and then a decisive win against Germany in the title game.
His Greece team claimed one of the biggest upsets in international basketball history one year later when it defeated the United States, 101-95, in the Semi-Finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
Spain then thrashed the Greeks in the Final.
At that tournament, Giannakis' Greece won decisively against a China team that had Yao Ming in the Eighth-Finals.
Giannakis led Greece to a fourth-place finish at EuroBasket 2007 in Spain and then at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Athens, steered the side to one of three places for the Beijing Games.
At the Olympics in China, Greece reached the Quarter-Finals but lost at the death to Argentina when Vassilis Spanoulis missed a potential game-winning three-pointer.
Giannakis decided to stop leading Greece but worked as the coach of Olympiacos.
This season, he has guided Limoges in the French top flight.
As Limoges are not going to qualify for the play-offs, Giannakis will be able to begin his duties with China in early May.