By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Manila, Philippines – Coach Gianmarco Pozzecco has a great way of putting things in perspective, and in this case, he used a poetic tone.
As he said: “We are here, but we were not supposed to be here, we just didn’t know it. But we came here, the top eight teams in the world. You understand which kind of players and persons we are. There’s one little animal, a wasp, that can’t fly, but he doesn’t know that he can’t. We can’t fly, but we didn’t know. And they did it. We’re among the Top 8 teams in the world. That’s amazing.”We could not fly and we didn’t know, so we did it. They didn’t deserve to play against America, because we were first in our group. That’s it, that’s sport. I love all my players and right now even more. I respect them more than today at 12″.
For the chat he had during the game with some of the US players, Poz answered cautiously explaining that not harm was done: “During the game, we started to talk with just the players. I didn’t complain, I just asked for some fouls, nothing else. That’s what I said to Coach Kerr after the game. I was a basketball player and as a coach, we can’t do that”.
Nicolo Melli doubled down on what his coach said, about Italy winning their second phase group and then ending up playing with the USA because they lost to Lithuania: “We need to be a bit lucky, I am really proud of this group. We deserved a little more, a little bit better, to overcome the quarterfinals.
Melli, however, vowed that this team will return: “One more time we need to learn how to lose, but we will be back next summer, trying to qualify for the Olympics and if not, next summer and next summer again. We will come back, again, again, and again until we finally make it”.
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The Italians want nothing less than a spot on the podium and a medal in a major competition and Melli didn’t hide behind his finger: “As an athlete, you want to go home with a medal after one and a month’s effort. But we should be proud of what we did, we received a lot of support, but that’s sport, that’s life. We will move on”.
Gigi’s last stand
With longtime captain Gigi Datome retiring from basketball after the end of the tournament, coach Poz was also asked about him and the significance that the classification games that are left have: “We are too focused on results. There are things that matter even more when you live in a group like this. The relationship we all have with Gigi is wonderful, the respect we have for Gigi clearly puts us in the condition of letting him live his last two games in the best way possible. The respect we have for Gigi will make sure the guys will give him his last emotions on the court. He deserves it”.