By John Rammas / email@example.com
Italy shocked the world by beating Serbia in the Round of 16 of EuroBasket 2022 to capture a spot in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in a row while eliminating one of the gold medal favorites. It was the second straight win for the “Azzurri” over the Serbian side in a knockout game since they also defeated them in the final of the 2021 Olympic Qualifying Tournament that was held in Belgrade.
Italian national team captain Gigi Datome wasn’t available during that magical night in Belgrade but was present in this year’s stunner. “This team showed a lot of character also last year,” Datome told Eurohoops. “When we play like this aggressively, in defense, on the same page, taking responsibility with personality on offense. We created a lot of good shots, and in front of us, there were champions, an amazing team with great players. We played really really well and I think that at the end of the day we deserved the win“, Italy’s captain said about the 86-94 win.
Before the encounter against Nikola Jokic and his teammates, everybody was betting on Serbia to win the game. Except for Italy. “We know that we only played one bad half in our first group, the second with Ukraine,” Datome said. “Other than that, we played really well but everyone would have said that Serbia was the favorite. They’re a great team. But this is basketball: we played with great personality, and we built big shots. We helped each other in defense and the game plan was executed very well.”
Asked about what they will expect in the big match against France, Datome concluded: “Serbia knew us from last year. Everybody respects us and we have to do the same. It will be another physical game, against another big center and a lot of talent on the guards. 0-0 on the jump ball and we will start to play”.
Then, it was time to reassure everyone about his most famous recognition mark: “My beard? Everybody wants that, but it’s gonna stay there”.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL