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ITA - It's a 'lottery' for Pianigiani
ROME (EuroBasket) - If Italy are going to have a terrific run to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament or even qualify directly for the London Games by reaching the EuroBasket Final in Lithuania later this year, they'll have to win the lottery.
At least that's the opinion of the Italians' coach, Simone Pianigiani, who will lead the side in the 24-team tournament.v
The Azzurri will do well just to get past the First Round because they're in Group B with Serbia, France, Israel, Latvia and Germany.
"We want, following what we did last year, for our fans to be proud of us for what we do on the court, to have a positive approach and the right mentality for every game," Pianigiani said.
"The EuroBasket, and I don´t say it to take away any of my responsibilities, is liking playing the lottery.
"With five games in six days anything can happen but we have to work to be ready.
"We have the enthusiasm and the group to repeat the good things we did in Bari."
Italy announced an 18-strong preliminary squad on Tuesday and Pianigiani explained why he elected not to include some of the younger players who were thought to be in contention.
"We start with the group of last year," he said.
"We have left (Riccardo) Moraschini, (Nicolò) Melli to be available for the under-20 team because we think that national team can get a good result.
"With respect to last year, we don´t have Tomas Ress, for personal reasons, nor Pietro Aradori.
"With Pietro we have agreed, considering the many players in his position, to stay in Siena and carry out physical and technical workouts so that he becomes a player of European value in the future.
"He will train and if necessary, he will be ready."
There are question marks about the Italian point guards.
"I have called up four playmakers because all of them have had a challenging season, from (Antonio) Maestranzi, to (Guiseppa) Poeta, (Jacopo) Giachetti and (Luca) Vitali.
"It was right to call all of them to evaluate them serenely."
"We are a atypical team.
"We will play on that. From the 12th to the 14th of August we will play crucial games.
"It will probably be a time of growth for the identity of the team.
"The games in Rimini will allow us to continue to adapt the team to European style of basketball, just as last year, (Marco) Belinelli and (Andrea) Bargnani showed they could do it."