Two-time Olympic silver medalist Italy has released the lineup that will be sent to Manila to compete in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Fresh from winning its fifth straight buildup match — a 98-65 demolition of Puerto Rico in the city of Ravenna — Italy took the occasion to name the 12 players who will vie in the 25 August to 10 September cagefest.
Head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco’s team will be composed of Marco Spissu, Stefano Tonut, Nicolò Melli, Simone Fontecchio (of the Utah Jazz), Giampaolo Ricci, Matteo Spagnolo, Achille Polonara, Mouhamet Diouf, Luca Severini, Gabriele Procida, Alessandro Pajola and team captain Luigi Datome, who will retire after the Manila tourney.
Notably absentees include many-time National Basketball Association mainstay Marco Bellineli and Danilo Gallinari of the Washington Wizards. NBA top rookie Paolo Banchero had earlier been eyed to play for the Italians but opted to suit up for the United States.
Datome, who pumped in 17 points when Italy made minced meat of Gilas during the 2019 World Cup, 108-62, is looking forward to playing in the Philippines.
“Great emotions, tonight, and an unforgettable party. My career journey has been crazy, I’ve had a blast,” Datome said.
“I thank all those who have helped me over the years, the last outing in Italy was fantastic. But now we have to focus on the World Cup, this group is wonderful and we are counting the days that separate us from the debut in Manila.”
Italy is bracketed with host Philippines, Angola and the Dominican Republic in Group A and they would all be playing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum all the way except on opening day when all four make their debut at the Philippine Arena on 25 August.
The Italians, playing in their 11th World Cup when they set foot in the Philippines, face Angola at 10 a.m. before Gilas Pilipinas battles the Dominican Republic at 4 p.m.
After setting up camp in Folgara, Italy hosted the Trentino Cup, beating Turkey, 90-89 and China —featuring naturalized player Kyle Anderson — 79-61.
Next up for Italy is a stint in the Shenzhen Cup in China — its final prep before flying to Manila — where it will take on Brazil and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, China, backstopped by its first naturalized player Anderson (Li Kaier), clipped New Zealand, 69-68, to bag third place in the 34th Basketball Super Cup over the weekend in Hamburg, Germany.
China suffered a massive 107-58 loss to Germany earlier.
In the championship, Canada escaped past Germany, 113-112, in overtime behind RJ Barrett’s 31 points.