Superman Fontecchio just happy to help Italy
MANILA (Philippines) - Simone Fontecchio shrugged off his Superman-like performance in Italy's massive win over Serbia in their fight to reach the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Quarter-Finals. The team's NBA forward was just trying to help his team win.
Fontecchio did just that, converting 11-of-15 shots and 6-of-8 free throws in scoring 30 points in Italy’s 78-76 thriller over Serbia to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
"I'm really happy when I can help my team. I can help my team in a lot of ways - even if I score 0 points. I can play defense, I can get rebounds, I can pass the ball. This team doesn’t need me to score 30, but when I do it of course I am really happy. It's just the cherry on top," said Fontecchio, who was rewarded with the TCL Player of the Game award. "It's certainly one of the best nights I've had in the national team."
It is actually one of the greatest showings by an Italian at the World Cup. The 27-year-old became the first Italian to score 30+ points in a FIBA World Cup game since Carlton Myers had 32 points versus USA in 1998. More impressive maybe was the difficulty of the shots he made. Off the dribble, fading away, over the defender, on one-on-one situations, over and over again.
Fontecchio, who came into the game averaging 16.7 points, was slow to start with just an early dunk for his only points of the first quarter. He went into the halftime break with 11 points and stepped up even more in the third quarter.
With Italy down 60-44, Fontecchio buried a three-pointer followed by a floater and a jumper off the glass for seven straight points for the Italians. That was followed by Luigi Datome's magical 10 points in 100 seconds to cut the deficit to one point.
Fontecchio ended with 11 points in the third quarter and added 8 points in the fourth. After hitting three tough jumpers with Serbian Ognjen Dobric draped all over him to help Italy move ahead late, it was Fontecchio who also iced the game.
He drove past Serbian star Bogdan Bogdanovic and knocked down a one-legged jumper in the lane for a 78-74 cushion with 34 seconds to play.
"Simone is an incredible player and he showed that today. Big time, big game, big player. I'm glad he plays with my team," the Italian captain Datome said.
Italy captain Luigi Datome hugs game winner Simone Fontecchio
Fellow veteran Nicolo Melli added: "Simone Fontecchio had an amazing game. He carried us on his shoulders."
Italian coach Gianmarco Pozzecco also offered up his comments at the post-game press conference.
"Simone Fontecchio this year will be a free agent. I represent him …"
Fontecchio interjects: "That's not true."
Pozzecco continued: “We don't ask (for) less than 30 million. And it will be the first time in NBA history that the manager will get at least 30 percent.”
Pozzecco clearly knows a Superman when he sees one.