Italy stuns Jokic’s Serbia, and stands on the road to the Blues

Italy stuns Jokic's Serbia, and stands on the road to the Blues
The Italians, of Simone Fontecchio (right) and Alessandro Pajola, surprised Nikola Jokic's Serbia at the Euro basketball.

“We shocked the world! » When he was a player, Gianmarco Pozzecco was a wisp, capable of igniting at any time, in and out of the game. Now coach of the Italian men’s basketball team, the Transalpin continues to put on a show. At the end of a match he sees “arguably as the greatest in the history of Italian basketball”, his team took the best, Sunday, September 11, on Serbia of the double MVP (“most valuable player”, best player) of the NBA, Nikola Jokic, in the round of 16 of the Euro (94-86). Thanks to this surprise victory against one of the favorites of the tournament, the Italians will face the French team on Wednesday for a place in the last four of the competition.

Expelled at the start of the second period, Pozzecco witnessed the feat of his troops from afar. At the final whistle, the expansive coach rushed to the field from which he was excluded, to bow down to his men. “It would have taken twelve security guards to stop me, and again, UFC guys [ligue de sport de combat nord-américaine]like Conor McGregor”, smiled the technician. Laughter, after his tears during his expulsion (for a second technical fault), where he hugged each of his players, and greeted his Serbian counterpart, Svetislav Pesic.

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“This expulsion was a complicated moment for us, but we stayed together. And mentally, we were very strong., explained Captain Luigi Datome. After having started the game badly, and seeing the Serbs quickly take the lead, the Transalpines fought hard to undermine Serbian certainties, in the Berlin arena, located not far from the remains of the Berlin Wall. Propelled by the match Marco Spissu – who scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half – the Italians caught fire, carried by an insolent address from three points, and a tenacious defense, despite a size deficit, especially against pivot Nikola Jokic.

Next opponent of the Transalpine, France is warned

And when the Serbian pivot went briefly to rest, Italy widened the gap. “No player can play 40 minutes, he is one of the best players in the world, so we tried to take advantage of the few things he can do a little less well”, blows strong winger Giampaolo Ricci. Despite 32 points and 13 rebounds, the leader of Serbia could not 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 energy of “atomic fly”, his nickname when he abused the defenses on the ground. “He is our leader, our boss. We would follow him to war.assures Giampaolo Ricci, for whom, like all his partners, the expulsion of his coach was a turning point in the match. “The exclusion of the coach created something in usinsisted Marco Spissu. He told us “Win ​​for me”. » A few minutes later, the Squadra Azzurra took control of the meeting, never to let go.

Italian coach Gianmarco Pozzecco in the round of 16 against Serbia.

Coming to watch the match as spectators, the French staff will have things to say to their flock during the next training session on Monday. Because the Blues, as all observers expected a victory for Serbia, after having painfully extricated themselves from the Turkish trap on Saturday (victory 87-86 after extra time). And to suffer the wrath of Nikola Jokic and his partners, Wednesday in the quarter-finals (5:15 p.m.). Instead, they will find the Italian team, which they beat twice during the preparation (78-77 in Bologna, 100-68 in Montpellier). And that they had eliminated last year at the same stage at the Olympic Games.

Read also: Euro basketball 2022: miraculously, the Blues extricate themselves in extremis from the Turkish trap and climb to the quarter-finals

In a trance, after unhorsing a favorite of the tournament, Italy would see themselves doing the same against the French. “After the match we played tonight, not sure that France wants to face us”, concludes strong winger Giampaolo Ricci. “We don’t want to stop there. »

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