By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Watching Simone Fontecchio perform with the Italy senior national team provides a boost on hopes for an extended run in the 2022 EuroBasket and excites the Utah Jazz fans as well.
Fontecchio, 26, put up 18 points in the last friendly game before the EuroBasket and preceding 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The new addition to the Jazz roster made 7/13 field goals alongside five assists, three rebounds, and one steal pushing Italy to the win, 96-80, versus the Czech Republic in the third-place game of the 33rd Basketball-Supercup, hosted in Hamburg, Germany.
Earlier showings in friendly games of recent weeks saw him improve his career-high for Italy to 24 and from there to 25 points, leading into yet another productive game including a powerful dunk. The other NBA player on the squad, Danilo Gallinari of the Boston Celtics returned to action recovering from an injury on his right ankle with two points and one steal in 15 minutes. Nico Mannion drew up a game-high 20 points.
Managing to avoid a winless run in four prep games ahead of official action, Gianmarco Pozzecco’s side will get Ukraine and Georgia at the top of Group L of the World Cup European Qualifiers next week. Jumping into EuroBasket’s Group C in early September, it will welcome Estonia, Greece, Ukraine, Croatia, and Great Britain in Milan.
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Vit Krejci has been dealing with a minor injury in recent days but is expected to be ready for the Czech Republic in upcoming official fixtures. Joining him on the injury list was Tomas Satoransky after hurting his right ankle in yesterday’s Semifinal against host Germany. Captain Jan Vesely remains available and scored 17 points plus 11 rebounds and five assists against Italy.
Next up for tactician Ronen Ginzburg are a couple of contests to start Group K of the Qualifiers, versus France on the road and opposite Hungary at home. Shifting into hosting EuroBasket’s Group D, Poland, Serbia, the Netherlands, Finland, and Israel will be the opponents in Prague.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL