Italbasket’s traumatic awakening

It was almost impossible for Italbasket. Still, it was nice to have tried. Maybe we weren’t a passive player of this type, but with such a low percentage of shots from the field (7 out of 30 out of 3), it becomes difficult to even think of winning against the United States National Basketball Team . Too much pressure on us, too much pressure on them. The World Championship of the Italian national basketball team ends in the quarterfinals with a heavy passive loss: 100 to 63. From 2016 to date, the USA team has won “only” four more times in competitions such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup by more than 30 points. Twice at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games against China and Venezuela, then Japan at the 2019 World Cup and finally again at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games against Iran.

In short, it doesn’t always happen to Americans to asphalt their opponents in this way. It happened against us for the fifth time: it’s a shame. Also because a performance of this kind carries the risk of losing focus on everything that the Azzurri have done so far. After the sensational loss to Lithuania, the Americans took to the field knowing they couldn’t afford another misstep. we dreamed But now it’s time to wake up and deal with reality. A reality that undoubtedly bears an enormously positive balance.


In blues history we’ve had quintets from 4/5 NBA. For example, at the 2015 European Championship, when Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli, Danilo Gallinari and Luigi Datome all four played simultaneously for American clubs. However, the national competition did not advance beyond fifth place. This national team is not the strongest in history as individuals, but basketball – we’re certainly not the ones who teach it – is a team sport. Damn team. In fact, in basketball, it’s either Michael Jordan who manages to lead the Chicago Bulls to victory (and pull off a big win), or there can’t be a single person who can really make a difference. In Marco Pozzecco’s Italbasket it was precisely the amalgam of the collective that created this magic. A beautiful group capable of inspiring, losing, resurrecting and getting back together.

All led by a leader who was a nice player when he was on the floor. But as a coach, he seems almost even more beautiful. He was always there in the national team’s final quarter-finals in 1998 (always against the USA, ironically). He’s on this worldwide walk. It started off on the wrong foot when Italy lost to the Dominican Republic in the second game of the first qualifying round. Pozzecco was even expelled. The press is not easy: “Pride is not enough (quoted from Fanpage)”, “Sprofondo Italia (quoted from Il Giornale)”, “Italia che botta (quoted from La Gazzetta dello Sport)”. As of this fall, however, he’s returned with the competitive spirit of his best days.

Italy increased their value from game to game and achieved the incredible game against Serbia in which the unthinkable happened with a spectacular -16 comeback in the third period. Notes on the performance of Simon Fontecchio (30 points) and Gigi Datome. The first to take up the discourse of the “Americans” in the blue shirt, who have always disappointed, It’s the exception that proves the rule. The Utah Jazz small forward in the blue jersey doesn’t feel any pressure, on the contrary, he gets even more excited. Not bad for his teammates, but he can play another sport if he wants.

Gigi Datome, on the other hand, will give up basketball after the World Cup (this is not over for the Azzurri, as the challenges for the rankings now begin). It’s a shame the Boston-Detroit ex doesn’t play this game anymore because overall despite his age he still shows he can play it well. From Serbia, via Puerto Rico (another win 73 to 57) we entered the USA with the epilogue that we all know. However, now we have to think about tomorrow, which in this case rhymes with the Paris Olympics. The qualification has yet to be achieved and will certainly take place via the pre-qualification tournaments: only the first two Europeans will pass the World Cup. But the essentials are there, the group too. We just have to keep playing like this, maybe with less fear.


We close with a focus on the man who made it all possible: Gianmarco Pozzecco. No technical commissioner, just the Poz. In his autobiography – Sensational. My life as the Unstoppable (Mondadori) – he said: “There wasn’t a Sunday evening that I didn’t see the sunrise with a drink in hand.” Often a lot of tiles, or rather hard tiles. Who knows how many of you have seen me in Hollywood in Milan with two glasses in my hand and a cigarette in my mouth.” This is to clarify what this player is made of. Little has changed since he became coach: angry press conferences, courtside drama, tears, screams, curses, joy, pain, all laced with colorful and by no means academic language. It’s as if Pierino or Gianburrasca suddenly went from undisciplined students to elementary school teachers. How could they not be themselves?

Coming back to the World Cup, his words on the sidelines against the USA are perhaps the finest sporting legacy of that experience, which we are sure has yet to be written. “The boys were exceptional, unfortunately luck was lacking. They played an outstanding game but I’m proud of my boys. We’re bitter because we made everyone believe we could win, the historic finish of finishing in the top 8 stands. If we hadn’t played USA we would have made it to the semifinals, I’m sure of that. Just because I’m thinking of my boys. We’re on the right track for the future, we have two games left where I’ll also start thinking about things in perspective.” A perspective that no matter what angle you want to look at it from, just under that incorrigible Poz’s watchful eye.

The article Italbasket’s traumatic awakening is by Rivista Contrasti.

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