Before the FIBA World Cup begins 11 days from now, another international tournament is taking place — featuring the best in European basketball.
The second qualifying round for EuroBasket 2015 is underway and the Italians have played strong in Group G. Led by Piston forward Luigi Datome, Team Italy is 2-0 in pool play after a 90-60 win yesterday against Switzerland.
Datome scored 15 points on 6/10 shooting from the field. He also tallied 3 rebounds and 3 assists. He talked about his team’s 30 point win after the game.
“We had a good approach, this kind of game can be dangerous if you don’t start with intensity and determination. I am particularly happy because I was born here, in Sardinia, and Cagliari’s fans showed their love for me and for this team today. We know that next game with Russia won’t be easy but we are ready and certainly we don’t want to stop now this positive moment.”
Team Italy will face Russia for the second time in this qualifying round on Sunday.
In their first meeting, Italy somehow squeezed out a 65-63 win. Team Russia — led by center Timofey Mozgov who had 17 points, outplayed Italy in the first half. Down ten to start the 4th quarter, Datome and company went on a 22-10 run to end the ballgame.
Datome nailed a three pointer to tie it at 55 with just over three minutes to go. Houston Rockets 2nd round pick Alessandro Gentile scored 13 points over the final 7 minutes of the game to lift team Italy.
In order to qualify for EuroBasket 2015, Team Italy must finish either at the top of Group G or as one of the six best second place teams throughout the seven group tournament. Group G consists of Switzerland, Italy and Russia.
Russia is 0-2 while Switzerland is 0-1.
If the Datome led Italians can defeat Russia on Sunday, it would pretty much guarantee a spot in the 2015 EuroBasket Finals.
Team Italy will round out the 2nd qualifying round next Wednesday on the road against Switzerland.