21 - 29
July 2018
10 Kun Huang (CHN), 18 Caterina Gilli (ITA)
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Inspired by Laura Macchi, Caterina Gilli is helping lead Italy's next generation

MINSK (FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Caterina Gilli styles her game on her idol, Italian legend Laura Macchi, and produced a performance to be proud of in Italy's first win of the U17 Women’s World Cup 2018.

The 5ft 10in (1.79m) forward recorded 20 points and 13 rebounds to help her side register a 72-57 victory over China in bouncing back from an opening loss against the USA.

"It was a really tough game - it’s hard to play against a physical team like China who don’t give up and fight for every ball,” said Gilli.

“The first game was a difficult start to our World Cup but we were up against one of the best teams in the tournament.

“It was a strong start for us [against China] then our level dropped in the second and third quarter, but we found our energy again in the fourth quarter and it was a great win for us.

“We had to win so it means that second place is still possible for us.”

Italy were beaten finalists in Zaragoza two years ago and reached the podium at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship last summer, securing the final spot on the podium with victory over Latvia.

The core of that roster is still together with the likes of Ilaria Panzera, Giulia Natali and Alessandra Orsili helping to provide plenty of scoring options.

Gilli averaged 8.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in Bourges and is now showing the signs of further development since then.

The aim is to keep building and see how far they can go in Minsk.

"We have some players a year younger [2002-born] and we just want to try to have a good World Cup,” said the 16-year-old. "This tournament will also help us to prepare for the U16 European Championships in Kaunas [in August].

"Our team is more undersized than other teams so we try to press every team, every quarter and take it game by game."

They say you should not meet your idols but Gilli has gone one better and gone up against hers when her team of Vigarano faced Famila Schio (with Macchi) in Serie A1 of Italy's Lega Basket Femminile last season.

“It was a very good experience for me to play against such a champion," she recalled. "She is a huge star of Italian basketball and inspired me to play like her."