04 - 09
July 2016
8 Danilo GALLINARI (Italy); 9 Andrea BARGNANI (Italy)
to read

Italy ready for important Trentino Cup games

TRENTO (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Italy will take important steps towards the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Turin this weekend when they host the Trentino Cup.

The Azurri will square off against the Czech Republic on Friday and then on Saturday face the winner of Turkey's clash with China.

Italy coach Ettore Messina says that each of the teams present different challenges. The team needs good warm-up games to get ready for OQT (4-9 July) games against Tunisia and Croatia in Group B and potential contests against Group A sides Greece, Iran and Mexico.

"The Czech Republic, Turkey and China are three different teams, but with great qualities," Messina said. "The Czech Republic have long, agile players that can also play away from the basket. It will not have its playmaker, Tomas Satoransky, who is busy with Barcelona in the final of the Spanish Championship, but there will be players with good fundamentals that are dangerous with the movements in the attack.

"Turkey is a physical team that plays a lot of pick and roll and hits the offensive boards... China is not such a physical team as in previous years, but it has versatile and talented players that are dangerous under the basket and from the perimeter."

Expectations of a strong performance for the Azzurri are high in Italy. The national team hasn't made it to an Olympics since 2004, when it claimed a silver medal.

There is a lot of star power in the squad and this will be the first opportunity for this generation of players to compete in front of the home fans at a major event.

Two of the veterans, Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Gallinari, are certain to have important roles in the team again this summer. Each made major contributions last year at the EuroBasket to help Italy clinch sixth place and claim a spot in the OQT.

"At this stage, each day has its own importance," Bargnani said. "For us on a mental level, there is no difference between training and playing. The time that separates us from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament is little so every second should be used to the maximum."

Gallinari also spoke of the importance of the games. Turkey and the Czechs will play in other OQTs while China have already clinched a spot in the tournament field in Rio de Janeiro.

"Training is important," Gallinari said, "but the schedule of friendly matches that we will play in preparation is perfect to prepare us well for the OQT. We are working in the best way and we will be ready to Turin."