“We shocked the world! » As a player, Gianmarco Pozzecco was a will-o’-the-wisp, capable of igniting at any moment, in and out of the game. Now coach of the Italian men’s basketball team, Transalpin continues to put on a show. At the end of a game go “possibly as the greatest in Italian basketball history”, his team took the best, on Sunday, September 11, against Serbia of the double MVP (“most valuable player”, best player) of the NBA, Nikola Jokic, in the round of 16 of the European Championship (94-86). Thanks to this surprise victory against one of the favorites of the tournament, the Italians will face the French on Wednesday for a place in the quarterfinals of the competition.
Sent off at the start of the second half, Pozzecco witnessed the feat of his troops from afar. At the final whistle, the expansive coach rushed onto the field from which he was excluded, to bow to his men. “It would have taken twelve security guards to stop me, and again, guys from the UFC [ligue de sport de combat nord-américaine]as Conor McGregorthe technician smiled. Laughter, after his tears during his expulsion (for a second technical foul), where he hugged each of his players, and greeted his Serbian counterpart, Svetislav Pesic.
“This expulsion was a difficult moment for us, but we stuck together. And mentally, we were very strong., explained captain Luigi Datome. Having started the match poorly, and seeing the Serbs quickly take the lead, the Transalpines fought hard to undermine Serb certainties, in the Berlin arena, located not far from the remains of the Berlin Wall. Buoyed by the game of Marco Spissu -who scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half-, the Italians caught fire, led by an insolent direction from three points, and a tenacious defense, despite the difference in size, especially against center Nikola Jokic.
Transalpina’s next rival, France is warned
And when the Serbian center briefly went into the break, Italy widened the gap. “No player can play 40 minutes, he’s one of the best players in the world, so we try to take advantage of the few things he can do a little less well.” extreme strong blows Giampaolo Ricci. Despite 32 points and 13 rebounds, the Serbian leader was unable to lead his teammates to victory.
In office for just a few months – he was appointed at the beginning of June – Gianmarco Pozzecco breathed into his troops his “atomic fly” energy, his nickname when he abused defenses on the ground. “He is our leader, our boss. We would follow him to war.says Giampaolo Ricci, for whom, like all his teammates, the expulsion of his coach was a turning point in the match. “The coach’s exclusion created something in usMarco Spissu insisted. He told us “Win for me”. » Minutes later, the Squadra Azzurra took control of the match and never let go.
Coming to watch the match as spectators, the French coaching staff will have things to say to their flock during the upcoming training session on Monday. Because the Blues, like all observers, expected a Serbian victory, having painfully climbed out of the Turkish trap on Saturday (87-86 victory after extra time). And suffer the wrath of Nikola Jokic and his teammates, Wednesday in the quarterfinals (5:15 p.m.). Instead, he will meet the Italian team, whom he beat twice in preparation (78-77 in Bologna, 100-68 in Montpellier). And that they had eliminated him last year on the same stage at the Olympics.
In a trance, having dismantled a tournament favourite, Italy would find themselves doing the same against France. “After the game we played tonight, I’m not sure France wants to play us.” concludes strong winger Giampaolo Ricci. “We do not want to stay there. »
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