08 - 16
August 2014
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ITA - Diamantidis fan La Torre looks to become playmaker

DUBAI (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Andrea La Torre has a pretty nifty set of tools on display at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship - solid size at 2.02m, good drive to the basket, excellent outside shot, ability to play different positions.

But in the long term, the Italian hopes to become a playmaker - just like the man he looks up to, Greece's Dimitris Diamantidis.

"Many people said I play like Diamantidis, so he's kind of like an inspiration for me," said La Torre.

The Venice native is a lefty just like the Greek great. But La Torre is still a ways from seeing the court like Diamantidis.

"He's good on defense and offense in one-on-one situations. He still needs to work on his passing, but he's very young and has a good future," said Italian coach Andrea Capobianco.

La Torre himself knows he still has work.

"I need to work on being a better playmaker. But with my height, I think I can play as a good playmaker," said the 17-year-old, who listed assists as the thing he likes to do most on the court.

Actually the answer to the question was "assists and dunks" - and then a flashing of a star-in-the-making smile.

Dunks are also a part of La Torre's game - especially because they are an expression of two main traits that describe the youngster.

"He's a good player who plays with a lot of intensity and aggressiveness. He can play a lot of different positions on the court. He has a good three-point shot and can also attack the basket," said Capobianco.

"He plays with good intensity on defense and works hard during the game and in practice."

La Torre, whose father Gianluca played three years in Italy's Serie A, actually didn't have a lot of practice in the build-up to the U17 Worlds after undergoing an operation on his stomach area.

"It felt good after the operation. It was an easy game against UAE but I'm happy that I was able to play all the way through," said La Torre, who had eight points, five steals and two rebounds against the host team at Al Ahli Arena on Friday.

The surgery kept him out of the just-completed U18 European Championship, where Italy finished sixth to qualify for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship.

"I was disappointed that I could not play at the U18 Euros, but I watched the games at home and it was a good result for Italy especially without me and (Daniel) Donzelli. So I'm happy about the sixth place for Italy," said La Torre, who teamed up with most of those players to win the Albert Schweitzer Tournament last April in Mannheim, Germany.

"Hopefully I can play at the U19 Worlds next year."

That means La Torre could do something that many of his NBA veteran idols such as Luigi Datome, Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari have never done - play at the FIBA U19 World Championship since the last time Italy played in the competition was in 1995, two years before La Torre was even born.

The youngster did say those NBA Italians are an inspiration to them, especially Gallinari.

"I met the NBA guys at Basketball without Borders (BWB). They told me to improve in every aspect of the game," said La Torre.

In other words, work on adding another skill for his tool box.