Basketball World Cup: Italy wants to erase the drubbing with the U.S.

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Italy challenges Latvia to wipe out the US

To start again after the defeat against the United States and to follow up on a World Cup that currently bears a decidedly positive sign. The last two engagements, Thursday  7 September against Latvia (10.45 a.m. Italian time, live RAI Sport, Sky Sport Uno, Now and DAZN) and Friday  9 September against an opponent yet to be discovered, will be useful for the final placement in the tournament and for the FIBA ranking but will also provide an opportunity for CT Gianmarco Pozzecco to continue the work of building the National Team to come. The presence on the roster of young guys of sure future like Matteo Spagnolo, Gabriele Procida and Momo Diouf is not è accidental. The personality shown by the three in the World Cup competitions, even against top-level opponents such as the United States, constitutes a solid base on which to work starting with the last two tests in Manila.

After the near semifinal in Berlin last year, Italy è once again landed among the best eight formations by moving from the European to the world context. First in its group in the second phase after beating Serbia, which will play for a Medal in the coming days. The unexpected (given the U.S. loss to Lithuania) clash with the U.S. already in the quarters did not allow the Azzurri to finally try to take that extra step that has been missing for years. "We will try again next summer – said Nik Melli hotly – and the one after that, and the one after that until we succeed". 

There’è lots and lots of Italy in Latvia. Starting with coach Luca Banchi, the architect of the great leap in quality made by the Baltic national team in the last two years. The 58-year-old Grosseto-born coach, in office since 2021, first surprised everyone in the rainbow qualifiers by winning the first round ahead of Belgium and Serbia and then repeated himself in the second phase by beating at home and away none other than Greece and Turkey. Nine wins and one loss (to Serbia 101-100…) that catapulted Latvia to the World Cup for the first time in its history.

The più seemed done and many insiders would not have bet on Latvia after the group draw: the one in Jakarta was undoubtedly the most difficult of all considering the presence, together with the Latvians, of two battleships such as Canada and France. And especially considering the absence due to injury in the Baltic household of key players such as Kristaps Porzingis, Janis Timma and Janis Strelnieks. And instead, dragged by the Bertans brothers, Latvia è managed first to eliminate France in the first round (88-86) and then beat defending champion Spain (74-69) and Brazil (104-84) flying to the quarterfinals. Firms ended at the gates of the semifinals against Germany (81-79).

In addition to coach Banchi, coach of the Italian National Under-20 team in 2001 and of the Italian Experimental Selection Silver at the Mediterranean Games always, Latvia has on the roster Strautins and Grazulis, players from Tortona and Trento respectively.

The record with Latvia speaks of 18 matches played since 1936 in Rome, before the 11 victories collected by the Azzurri (34-29). The last match played was in 2015, a friendly at the Tbilisi tournament in Georgia in preparation for the EuroBasket (82-63 Italy). The last official, the only Italian victory in the 2011 EuroBasket round in Siauliai, Lithuania. In that game, won 71-62, Bargnani’s 36 points stood out, to date the 10th best individual performance by an Azzurro in terms of points scored.

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