FIBA World Cup

Pozzecco guides Italy to FIBA World Cup final phase 25 years since same feat as player

Delfin Dioquino

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Pozzecco guides Italy to FIBA World Cup final phase 25 years since same feat as player

MENTOR. Head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco of Italy against Puerto Rico in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.


Gianmarco Pozzecco comes full circle as he steers Italy to the final phase of the FIBA World Cup for the first time since the 1998 edition, where he played point guard for the Azzurri

MANILA, Philippines – It has been so long since the last time Italy reached the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup that head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco still played for the Azzurri.

Pozzecco steered Italy to the final phase of the World Cup for the first time in 25 years as the Azzurri ended the second round with a 73-57 dismantling of Puerto Rico on Sunday, September 3, to top Group I with a 4-1 record.

It was a full circle moment for Pozzecco, who played point guard for Italy in the 1998 edition where the squad finished sixth.

But Pozzecco said what the 1998 team and this batch of the Azzurri accomplished are incomparable.

“There is is nothing to compare. Because at that moment, It was totally different,” said Pozzecco, also a part of the Italian crew that won silver in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“I’ve got so much respect for my teammates who played with me in that moment.”

“What they did tonight – and what they did not just tonight – in my opinion, you cannot even compare with no national team that Italy had in its history.”

Italy swept the second round, stunning powerhouse Serbia in an inspired come-from-behind win and crushing a confident Puerto Rico side that was coming off a key victory over erstwhile unbeaten Dominican Republic.

Pozzecco paid tribute to his players for walking the talk.

“They’re really focused on what they’re doing. I asked them before the match, ‘Do you want to continue?’ They show me on the court their desire,” said Pozzecco.

It is only bound to get tougher for Italy, though, as it tangles with title favorite USA on Tuesday, September 5, at the Mall of Asia Arena for a shot to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1978.

Redemption will be the theme of the clash, with Pozzecco and the Azzurri seeking payback after getting eliminated by the Americans in 1998 following a narrow 80-77 loss in their quarterfinal duel.

“We will be ready,” said Pozzecco.

In the other quarterfinal battle set on Tuesday, undefeated Lithuania faces Serbia. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.