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EuroBasket stars headline 24-man list of Italy's OQT candidates
ROME (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Italy have included all 12 members of the Azzurri squad at EuroBasket 2015 on their 24-man preliminary list of players for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Turin. The Italians, who finished sixth last year, will host one of the three OQTs in Turin, 4-9 July.
New head coach Ettore Messina is almost certain to have players that logged significant minutes last year, namely Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli, Alessandro Gentile, Andrea Bargnani, Nicolo Melli, Pietro Aradori, Daniel Hackett, Marco Cusin and Andrea Cinciarini, as well as Luigi Datome, on his final roster at the OQT. Datome got hurt during last year's event, appearing in just two games.
Italy came within a whisker of beating Lithuania in their Quarter-Final last year but lost in overtime. They nevertheless bounced back to defeat the Czech Republic in a Classification Round game to secure sixth place. On balance, the Italians had a strong showing under former head coach Simone Pianigiani.
Messina, who is currently on the San Antonio Spurs bench assisting head coach Gregg Popovich in the NBA playoffs, is expected to announce a reduced list of 16 players in the coming days.
Italy are hoping to make it back to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2004, when they competed in Athens and reached the Final before falling to Argentina.
Italy 24-player preliminary squad for Turin OQT: Abass Awudu Abass, Pietro Aradori, Andrea Bargnani, Marco Stefano Belinelli, Bruno Cerella, Riccardo Cervi, Andrea Cinciarini, David Reginald Cournooh, Marco Cusin, Luigi Datome, Amedeo Della Valle, Andrea De Nicolao, Simone Fontecchio, Danilo Gallinari, Alessandro Gentile, Daniel Lorenzo Hackett, Daniele Magro, Nicolo Melli, Davide Pascolo, Giuseppe Poeta, Achille Polonara, Luca Vitali, Michele Vitali and Andrea Zerini.