The leader of Italy in basketball: «Being there is a dream, I have to thank the teammates who qualified and allowed me to live it. Marco and Gigi? Being here was our common goal, if they aren’t there it’s because they had serious reasons ”
At the 2006 World Cup in the Saitama Super Arena, one of the most spectacular venues in the world, the Italian basketball team of the time sent out a “worker” team, whose symbolic face was that of the rocky Mason Rocca. But it was also a Azzurra who launched Marco Belinelli on the big spot: Beli made a big party against the USA and it was there that he created the conditions for his landing in the NBA. Moreover, Carlo Recalcati and his group could not cultivate dreams of glory: the terminus was the eighth final against Lithuania, albeit lost by only three points. Today at the Games a national team is showing up which, after the coup of qualification in Serbia, asks for confirmation of its value at the Olympic tournament. Germany, Nigeria and Australia to start with (Sunday 25 the debut with the Germans, already a key challenge), then in the case of see.
The dream of life
But in the mixed zone, after training, here is Captain Melli recalling in a simple way the meaning of the mission: «We are here to give everything, we are neither on a school trip nor on a holiday». This is the preamble of the chat with the one who has recently arrived: Danilo Gallinari, fresh from the East final of the NBA (lost by his Atlanta Hawks against future Milwaukee champions), unavoidably absent in Belgrade but then integrated in place of Awudu Abass. And our “go to guy” (definition by Achille Polonara to baptize the importance of the Rooster, the man to look at in decisive moments) the first thing he did was to call Abi. “I wanted to hear from him personally to thank him for what he did. I wanted him to hear it from me. If I am here to realize the dream of my life it was thanks to him too: my first Olympics is more or less as I imagined it, only a little different in the sanitary measures that have been adopted. But when you enter the village, the sensations are unique ».
For this reason there is also gratitude to the other teammates, those with whom he must now share the five-circle adventure: «Joining this group was very easy thanks to the environment created by coach Sacchetti. I told the kids I’m in debt for life, I’ll thank them forever. But now that we’re here we have to try to bring something home and have fun. When you are there, you have to try ».
«Belinelli and Datome? Sorry. I know how much they are suffering “
Speaking of companions. The question-trap about the big absentees also starts, since Fabio Fognini did not send them to tell his tennis colleagues who have given up. But Danilo has no heavy words for it at all Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome. Far from it: he understands them and defends them. «Beli and Gigi are two companions I’ve always had since I joined the national team: I was 18. So sorry not to see them: we have been together for a long time and this was a common goal. If they didn’t come, it’s because they had a serious reason: but I guess what they’re feeling, it’s not easy to say no to blue ».
The multitasking champion
Danilo is seen as an Italian product improver. Or as a «facilitator», to use the character of «Pulp Fiction». «My added value? I think I’m joining a versatile group, that of players who can switch roles. It has been a bit of my strength in my career and it adds to that of the group. Has fatherhood changed me? It changed my life, but as a player I’m still the same. What would I give up for a medal? Give me a list of options: I think I would say yes to everything. We play it with anyone, we don’t want to stop here ».
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Be an example
According to the Gallo, Italy must face the Olympic tournament with heart and competitive malice, running as much as possible and making the best use of the three-point shooting weapon, winning in Serbia. «It is important to do well, also as a message to young people. Today they may tend to watch the NBA more, but they must not forget the importance of the national team ». So let Germany, Nigeria and Australia advance, from which we ask for a pass for the quarterfinals and for direct elimination. «They are three teams that have quality, physicality, experience and talent: it is difficult to find their weak point. But we must make sure to impose our characteristics ». Yeah, if you are there, you have to try.
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July 22, 2021 (change July 22, 2021 | 16:17)
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