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Filloy counting on home fans to carry Italy to World Cup ticket
AVELLINO (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Ariel Filloy is counting on the people of Italy to carry the Italian national team to a victory in the next window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers and help end their global stage drought.
“WE PLAY IN FIVE DIFFERENT CITIES AND THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SOLD OUT.”
Italy's last appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup came in 2006 in Japan and the 31-year-old point guard is ready to get the two-time Semi-Finalists back to the tournament.
"Italy has not played in a World Cup or Olympics for 12 years. I hope we can reach China 2019," said Filloy, who made his debut with the Italian senior national team at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. "For me to be part of this group and play with national team is amazing. In case of qualification I will be very, very happy. I would immediately continue to work to have a spot in the team for the World Cup."
The last time Italy played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup came in 2006, when they lost to Lithuania in the Eighth-Finals
Italy's current 6-2 record in Group J puts them in second place behind undefeated Lithuania but with a two-win lead over Poland and Hungary at both 4-4.
"We are close to reaching the goal and we feel confident of qualifying, but we still need to win games. So we need to continue to work and put our focus on one game at a time," Filloy said.
Italy's next window will definitely be a major test as they host Lithuania and then travel to Poland.
"Two big games. Lithuania are first in our group so for sure that is going to be difficult. But we are playing at home and we are excited about reaching the World Cup. In Poland, we will play against a team that gave us a lot of problems in Bologna, so we need to be ready from the beginning and play tough," Filloy said. "Like always, we need to give all we have."
🇮🇹🇱🇹 A Brescia l'Italia affronta la Lituania, leader del Girone J di #FIBAWC Qualifiers. Loro hanno già il biglietto per la Cina. Lo vogliamo anche noi!!!— Italbasket (@Italbasket) November 6, 2018
🎟️https://t.co/CBFyLBEada#ThisIsMyHouse #italbasket pic.twitter.com/glhDeoNzxG
For the game against Lithuania, Filloy and the Italians will have the support of the home fans in Brescia. The northern Italian city - located between Milan and Verona - will be the fifth different location to host the national team following Torino, Treviso, Trieste and Bologna.
"I think this is one of the most positive things about the windows because we play in five different cities and they have always been sold out. This is beautiful. People around the whole country can see and support the national team," Filloy said.
The Argentina native, who is the captain for the Basketball Champions League side Sidigas Avellino, is one of six Italians to play in all four windows thus far, averaging 3.6 points, a team-high 3.4 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals in seven games.
“THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. PEOPLE AROUND THE WHOLE COUNTRY CAN SEE AND SUPPORT THE NATIONAL TEAM.”
Filloy believes Romeo Sacchetti's team has done well in the European Qualifiers with a 6-2 record in Group J as 24 different players have gotten onto the court.
"I think we have changed more than developed because we are not always the same players. So we adjust how we play depending on the players we have, especially in the last window in September," Filloy said.
Italy entered the last window having lost the final two First Round games and then beat Poland at home and won at Hungary.
"For sure, winning the two games in September was very important. They put in the right direction," said Filloy of the 101-82 win over Poland and the 69-63 defeat of Hungary.
The triumph over Poland was especially important since Poland could have pulled even on record if they had beaten Italy.
"We had all the pressure against a good team. So it was important to win that game, also because it was the first game of the Second Round," Filloy said.
The next window is right around the corner and Filloy and Italy are hoping to lock up a World Cup spot as soon as possible - with the help of the home fans.
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