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MANILA, Philippines – Favored Italy crashed to an early 2023 FIBA World Cup shocker after it fell to hot-shooting Dominican Republic, 87-82, at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 27.
Looking past the final score, the world No. 10 Azzurri actually piled on a 15-4 catch-up run in the clutch, attempting to climb out of a late 67-83 hole after what looked like a Karl-Anthony Towns dagger three with 2:30 left to play.
After Italy eventually fell short to fall to a 1-1 record in Group A, team captain Luigi Datome refused to wallow in what went wrong, instead quickly shifted their sights on last group phase foe Gilas Pilipinas on Tuesday, August 29.
“At this stage, you know, there’s no time for depression, no time [for] euphoria. I think we’re old enough,” he said. “Everybody went through important games, everybody played against tough home court. I think [it’s] going to be a nice atmosphere and all the players love to play in a nice atmosphere.”
“We’re going to control what we can do on the court. One day rest is just the environment. We need to be focused on our job.”
Instead of having one foot in the door of the second round, Italy is now in danger of an early exit if it gives up another upset loss to the Gilas home squad, which is as of posting is taking on Angola in the 8 pm main event.
For Datome, however, he expected his team to not veer away from what they originally set out to achieve in Manila.
“Nothing [changes]. [It’s] a very important game to prepare [for]. Prepare to move forward to the second round,” he continued.
“Nothing. We’re going to rewatch for sure the game today. Prepare, but keep on believing in ourselves, of course, and keep on trusting each other. We know it’s going to be hard [against Gilas] like it was hard today, like it was hard two days ago. Nothing different.”
No matter what happened against the Dominican Republic, Italy is still expected to be the most dangerous group phase foe Gilas will face in its home stint. As Datome said, nothing is different with the Azzurri. – Rappler.com