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16 - 22
December 2016
11 Davide Moretti (ITA), 4 Lorenzo Penna (ITA)
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Moretti wants to stand on podium with long-time friends

SAMSUN (FIBA U18 European Championship 2016) - Italy is widely considered a major basketball nation but it’s been 11 years since the Azzurri have reached the FIBA U18 European Championship podium. Davide Moretti wants to end that drought against Germany in the Third-Place Game in Samsun.

Moretti and the Italians lost to France in the Semi-Finals but will look to bounce back and beat Germany in the Third-Place Game.

"We really, really want to get onto the podium and collect the third place because this team is special," said Moretti, who leads the Italians in points (14.4) and assists (4.8) while also averaging 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

"This is my team, I was born with them. I have known everybody since I was 10 years old." - Moretti

Moretti, the son of former Italian national team star and current Varese head coach Paolo Moretti, was very excited to see that he would have a chance to play in this tournament after it was postponed from the summer. He was scheduled to only play in the FIBA U20 European Championship 2016 this summer - which he also did.

"This is my team, I was born with them. I have known everybody since I was 10 years old," said Moretti, who was cleared to play in the tournament by his Italian Serie A2 club De Longhi Treviso Basket.

"I really expressed my interest in coming here to my club and they said okay because it could be a good experience for all of us. And it would be a chance to be a really good championship because we are a very good team."

Italy had not lost in the tournament until the France game, having topped Group A including a victory over Spain and then beating Finland in the Quarter-Finals.

France, however, were too much, especially since the Italians lost a bit of their focus in the second quarter.

"We dropped our intensity in the second quarter and France got their break then and held it until the end," said Moretti, who collected 16 points, 9 assists and 3 steals in the Semi-Final loss.

Moretti knows it doesn't get any easier against Germany, who came into the tournament as one of the top favourites but lost to Lithuania in the Semi-Finals and will be hungry for their first-ever podium finish.

"Germany is a really, really good team too and also a different team. They have some tall guys and athletic guys. We have to stay focused for more than just two or two-and-a-half quarters but the whole game," he said. "If you don’t stay focused for 40 minutes in this tournament you will lose, like we did against France."

Moretti has learned his share of lessons in his previous four youth European Championships and the FIBA U17 World Championship 2014. And some of those lessons came this summer at the U20 tournament, where he averaged 7.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists despite being two years younger than the rest of the competition.

Davide Moretti was younger but was not over-matched at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2016.

"That was a very tough championship because the guys are faster, more athletic and everything better than our age. I played with a lot of very good guys on my team. (Federico) Mussini and (Diego) Flaccadori helped me a lot to improve my game and to approach the game differently mentally, how to be a star of a very good team. And I thank them for that," Moretti said.

Moretti is exactly that - the star of a very good team. And with one more star performance he might just end Italy's podium drought since third place in 2005.