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Giannis, Thanasis Antetokounmpo portrayed by Agada brothers in ‘Rise’

Giannis, Thanasis Antetokounmpo portrayed by Agada brothers in ‘Rise’
Disney’s RISE tells the story of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokoumnpo’s path to the NBA from Greece where he is portrayed by new actor Uche Agada who is also of Nigerian descent. (Courtesy: @ucheagada/Instagram)

MILWAUKEE (BVM) – Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has a true rags to riches story. From Nigeria to Greece to finally the NBA, Antetokounmpo and his family, including older brother Thanasis and younger brothers Alexandros and Kostas, had a long journey to the success that they see today. That journey is the theme of the new Disney+ original film, “Rise”, which tells the story of both Giannis and Thanasis’ story from the streets of Greece to NBA champions.

Much like their reallife counterparts, brothers Uche and Ral Agada, who play Giannis and Thanasis in the movie respectively, have also had an interesting path to their chance at fame. For the Agadas, it all started with a simple tweet.

Uche and Ral both were raised in New Jersey the sons of a Nigerian father, much like the Antetokounmpo brothers in the film. While the brothers both played basketball and followed the NBA, they weren’t super fans, though they knew about the Milwaukee Bucks‘ star given his Nigerian roots. When Giannis posted that he was looking for actors to portray him in an upcoming movie, Uche saw a screenshot of the tweet on his Instagram and figured he would throw his hat in the ring. This would be a moment that would change his life forever.

With no previous acting experience, Uche threw his hat in the ring. Months later, he would be chosen to portray the “Greek Freak” in the movie. 

After being hired, those in charge of the film asked the 20-year-old if he had any siblings and Ral was brought into the picture. Not only was Ral Uche’s older brother, but much like the Antetokounmpo brothers, Ral also measured shorter than his younger sibling at 5-foot-10 to Uche’s 6-foot-4. 

That was similar to the professional basketball players’ heights as Giannis measures at 6-foot-11 and Thanasis comes in at 6-foot-6, five inches separating the two while the Agadas have six inches of difference. It was practically perfect.

The two would be taken to Greece where they would shoot on-site for the film. Much like those players they were portraying, the Agada brothers had to endure grueling workouts and reach top physical form. The two had played basketball before, both recreationally and during high school, but they never had to endure something on this scale before.

In the time since the movie wrapped the brothers have done a number of interviews and appearances which included Uche playing in a cultural rivalry basketball game between Nigeria and Ghana in New York called the Battle of Reel Jollof, connecting the actor to the sport on an even deeper level.

Uche represented Team Nigeria in the Battle of the Reel Jollof basketball game in New York in May. (Courtesy: @ucheagada/Instagram)

If the pair of brothers’ journeys mirror each other, then premiere night was to the Agadas what draft night was to the Antetokounmpos. They had officially overcome the long odds to make it to the pinnacle. During the premiere, the two sets of brothers were able to interact and share the moment that they were able to build together.

Originals

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