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Abass ready to turn up the volume for Italy at the World Cup
MILAN (Italy) - Italy's last appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup dates back to 2006, but Awudu Abass insists Meo Sacchetti's team will be ready for China 2019 - thanks in large part to the growing experience from the European Qualifiers.
Abass averaged 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals over 12 games during the Qualifiers in helping Italy end a 13-year World Cup drought. The Italians will head to China with an opening game set against Philippines in Foshan with the other two Group D contests coming against Angola and Serbia.
"The World Cup is something amazing, Italy hasn't been a part of it for many years and we are very excited for the challenge ahead," said Abass, who would be playing his second major tournament, following the FIBA EuroBasket 2017.
"I'm proud to wear the national team jersey, I fought hard and made sacrifices for that," the Brecia forward added during a stop on the FIBA World Cup trophy tour in Milan.
The 26-year-old said the qualification process was beneficial to the team, while also bringing everyone together - including the fans.
"The FIBA windows helped us gain confidence and experience with the national team," he said. "Playing the Qualifiers in different cities around Italy was truly emotional. Every arena we went to, we felt a lot of love for the national team. That lifted us up."
Sacchetti did not have some of his leading stars for most of the European Qualifiers - such as Luigi Datome and Nicolo Melli, who both played just two games, but Abass does not expect any problem of integrating them into the group.
Abass expects a smooth transition for Melli and Datome
"Coach Sacchetti has done a great job. In every arena we found a wonderful atmosphere, and everyone brought his contribution to win it all. I'm sure that players that haven't been a part of the Qualifiers will fit wonderfully in our system, Sacchetti is great at bringing us together as a team," said Abass, who played with Datome and Melli at EuroBasket 2017.
This summer's World Cup will not be the first time Abass has been in China either, so he does not anticipate any issues with getting used to things in Asia come August and September.
"I've already been to China one time with a selected group for the national team. It's a very different country from Italy, but we will be ready. I'm sure about it," he said.