Italy also needed confirmation on Gallinari’s role and they arrived, the winger of Saski Baskonia can be the x-factor of the tournament. The Azzurri will return on Wednesday at 10.20 Italian against Australia
Mission accomplished. Italy needed confirmation in its first match at the Olympic tournament, to understand if it can really be Tokyo’s loose cannon, if it has a chance to reach the quarter-finals. The comparison with Germany, a team with the same ambitions, said that the strength of Sacchetti’s group is such that yes, one can dream. With an extra Danilo Gallinari, the group that in Belgrade made the feat of beating Serbia and getting the ticket for the Games is even stronger, extraordinary, convinced. And after the victory in the opening match, this Olympic tournament in which the first two of each group go to the quarters and two of the three best runners-up takes on another dimension.
Italy also needed confirmation on Gallinari’s role in this group. Gallo is the news: he wasn’t there in Belgrade because he was busy with the Atlanta Hawks in the first conference final of his career. The fact of not having been able to play friendly matches before the Games (like Germany, another team that passed through the Pre-Olympic) complicated his inclusion. So much so that Sacchetti decided to let him start from the bench: “He had never played with us, there was no way – explains the coach in the post-match press conference, showing off his English required by the protocol -. But he quickly joined the group because he is a great player: we knew he would have no problem doing it ”. Gallo gladly accepted a role similar to the one he had with the Hawks, starting from the bench but still being the leader. “I was hoping he would have problems, having never played with this group: instead he made a difference” confesses with a smile Hendrik Rodel, the coach of Germany. Gallo in the 26 ‘on the parquet confirmed that he was fundamental for this team: he was the one who rekindled the spark, who gave his teammates back the confidence lost in the disastrous first quarter. “It’s impossible to feel bad with this group, it’s nice to live every moment with them” he says.
The other confirmation came from the strength of the group. That magic that was lit before the Pre-Olympic in Belgrade traveled with the Azzurri and reached Tokyo. Because it would have been easy to raise the white flag after Germany’s sensational start, or after Lo’s 10 points in the first 150 seconds of the second half that had pushed Italy back down by 10. The Azzurri corrected their mistakes, improved their defense, kept opponents without points in the last 4’45 ”. “I am proud of how we ended the game – says Sacchetti -. It was the first time at the Olympics for everyone, there was excitement. But they still gave everything, what they had to do ”. Italy confirmed that they play well together, that they know how to bring out the best when it counts. As did Simone Fontecchio, who with 20 points confirmed that he can be the X-Factor of the tournament. “We showed many attributes and a lot of character: this is a really special group” says Fontecchio proudly. So special that he impressed the opposing coach: “They play in groups and are very well organized: you can see that there is great understanding between them”, said Rödl.
THE NEXT STEP
Italy returns to the field on Wednesday at 10.20 am Italian time against Australia. The Boomers confirmed to be the strongest of the group by overwhelming Nigeria 84-65 on their debut. Patty Mills and his teammates’ goal is to win a medal, after the double fourth place in Rio and at the World Cup in China in 2019. For the Azzurri it will be another important test: not to understand if they are in the quarter-finals or not, but to measure their level against one of the powers of these Games. Italy with Germany was not perfect, but they broke the ice. Showing that with Gallinari he can make a further qualitative leap compared to Belgrade, that the team works if he is decisive but not a one man show. “There is still a long way to go, but starting like this helps,” said Gallo. Improving, correcting the mistakes that forced Italy to chase Germany throughout the game, is the next step to move to that “loose cannon” level that the Azzurri want to reach.
July 25, 2021 (change July 25, 2021 | 12:59 pm)
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