Italy has finally managed to assemble a strong roster for the upcoming Eurobasket, many believe this is finest Italian team ever, which is very strong statement considering the country was European champion in 1999. But this Italian team really looks great on paper – with three NBA stars in Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari, surrounded with great players that proved themselves in European basketball (Gentile, Hackett, Aradori, Datome).
This is first time in many years Italy finally managed to bring everything the country has together for one tournament. In recent years, Italian stars were either injured or indifferent to National team duties. Bargnani, Gallo and others are coming to this Eurobasket with determination to finally achieve something. Bargnani and Belinelli especially were criticized for their lack of caring about the national team, but new Brooklyn’s addition wants to play at Olympics in Rio and this is last chance for him, and for Belinelli as well.
"I think the frustration in this group is a constant, because it must serve as motivation to grow.," Bargnani told RAI, the Italian broadcaster this week. Victory, he said, is "necessary" to fulfill the dream of playing in the 2016 Olympics.
But, there is one big problem for Italy in this Eurobasket – they are in strongest group by far! Italy will compete for one of four places that lead to the second round and this group in Berlin will be ‘bloodbath’. Spain is Olympic silver medalist and maybe the best European team since Yugoslavia fell apart, with the Gasol brothers, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Mirotic. pSerbia played in finals of World Championships vs USA last year, Turkey is coming with very strong team and Germany is host AND has Dirk Nowitzki!
That is five strong teams (Iceland is three levels below the others) that will compete for just four places. If Bargnani and company somehow make through that, they will be able to do just anything.