Team Profile: Italy hope FIBA EuroBasket magic carries over to World Cup
MANIILA (Philippines) - Italy have a rich tradition in international basketball yet they haven't finished in the top four of a major event since the 2004 Olympics. The Azzurri hope to change that in the Philippines.
The Italians have a strong mix of veteran leaders and talented young players ready to take the next step. Add all that up and Italy can legitimately feel they are podium challengers at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. Italy have put together a roster strong enough to give a serious challenge to any team.
Sharpshooter Simone Fontecchio established himself in the NBA in his first season and the team has veteran leaders such as Luigi Datome, Nicolo Melli, Achille Polonara, Giampaolo Ricci and Stefano Tonut.
Marco Spissu has grown into a real leader as point guard while Gabriele Procida and Matteo Spagnolo are two highly talented youngsters that can shine when given the chance.
Italy will need to help Simone Fontecchio with the scoring load
Italy showed at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 what they are capable of doing - shocking Serbia in the Round of 16 and then taking France to overtime in the Quarter-Finals. The team not only has talent but they are pushed by their ultra-competitive and energetic head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco.
The Azzurri have reached the top eight in six of their last seven FIBA events, but not one time have they gotten to the Semi-Finals. Can Italy finally break through with their mix of stars?
Gianmarco Pozzecco will always give passion and energy to his team
Hope is high in the Italy camp as Pozzecco has a solid group of players that have been playing together for some time now. The team will have the added motivation and confidence from its latest EuroBasket performance, one that would have been better had Fontecchio not missed two free-throws with 16 seconds remaining, when Italy led France 77-75. France then scored to force overtime and won to reach the Semi-Finals.
Chemistry, intelligence, toughness, and three-point shooting will be their natural strengths.
Marco Spissu can be a deadly accurate shooter from three-point range
Add to that another year of leadership for Fontecchio, Spissu, Procida and Spagnolo and Italy can dream of their first top-four showing at the World Cup since 1978.
When Italy swims in euphoria, no one is safe. But Italy also have concerns. The 30-plus-year-old veterans wear down; undersized center Nicolo Melli cannot handle the other bigs in the tournament; the young guns are a bit overwhelmed; and the offense stalls and cannot score enough points to reward the team's strong defense.
Pozzecco can energize this team but ultimately it's the players that have to decide the game and win it on the court.
IN THE LAST 10 FIBA EVENTS
|FIBA Basketball World Cup
For a deeper look on Italy's journey to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, click here.