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Serie A exposure gives Oxilia important experience

BOLOGNA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2016) - Tommaso Oxilia is expected to be one of the main leaders for Italy at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 thanks to increasingly uncommon experience in the Serie A. 

Concerns are rising in Italy as many of the country's top talents between 18 and 22 years feel that there are not enough opportunities to play in Italy and are starting to flee elsewhere - predominantly high schools and colleges in the United States. 

Oxilia however is a case for staying in Italy as the forward is already earning playing time in Italy's top flight Serie A this past season for Virtus Obiettivo Lavoro Bologna. 

Oxilia arrived at the storied Bologna club in July 2013 at age 15. He hails from the 9,000-person beachside town of Pietra Ligure, located about 50 kilometres from the French border halfway between Genoa and Nice. 

"Bologna is a beautiful city and is perfect for an 18-year-old boy," said Oxilia, who made his Serie A debut during the 2014-15 season. "It has good schools and a very good team like Virtus that gives me the opportunity to grow."

Those games against top level talent will definitely help Oxilia be a leader for coach Andrea Capobianco’s Italy team in Samsun, where Italia are drawn into Group A with Croatia, Spain and Sweden

"The experience with Virtus has given me a lot mentally, helping me to stay focused in times of trouble and never give up," Oxilia said.

Italy will need Oxilia to perform well for a good result at the FIBA U18 European Championship, where the country hasn’t reached the Semi-Finals since 2011. 

"We need to give everything and be focused on every game without thinking we are better or inferior to any team," Oxilia said. 

A top-five finish would qualify Italy for the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship, which would make it two straight U19 Worlds appearances after not having played on the U19 global stage since 1995. 

"For us, it is very important to return to the U19 World Championship because it is the best competition at youth level, and it would be an honour to be part of it," Oxilia said. "A top five would be a great reward for all the work we are doing to prepare for this tournament."

Tommaso Oxilia will lead Italy at the U18 European Championship.

Oxilia said Italy will need to focus on three areas to be successful - defence, rebounding and limiting turnovers. 

"If we give all of ourselves in these three aspects we can hope for a good result," he said.

Oxilia is also excited about finally getting back to the national team after missing last summer’s U18 European Championship due to injury. He also missed this spring's Albert Schweitzer Tournament for Italy with an ankle injury.

"Not being part of the Italian team last year gave me more incentive to try to regain this shirt. It is so important to me."