FIBA World Cup

‘We deserve more’: Italy rues unlucky draw as spirited FIBA World Cup run ends at USA hands

Delfin Dioquino

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

‘We deserve more’: Italy rues unlucky draw as spirited FIBA World Cup run ends at USA hands

CRUSHED. Italy's Nicolo Melli reacts during their game against the USA in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Eloisa Lopez/REUTERS

Italy reaches the final phase of the FIBA World Cup for the first time since 1998 as the No. 1 team in its group, but its top ranking proves to be a double-edged sword as it gets bracketed with a formidable USA side tipped to win it all

MANILA, Philippines – The luck of the draw simply did not favor Italy.

Nicolo Melli said the Azzurri “deserve more” as Italy saw its best FIBA World Cup run in 25 years come to a screeching halt at the hands of fancied USA by way of a 100-63 loss in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, September 5.

The Azzurri reached the final phase for the first time since 1998 as the No. 1 team in Group I, but their top ranking proved to be a double-edged sword as they got bracketed with a formidable American side tipped to win it all.

“You need to be a little bit lucky. I think we did everything we could do in our group. We were at first,” Melli said.

“I’m really proud to be part of this group, of this team. I think we deserve maybe a little bit better, a little bit more. We deserve to overcome [the] quarterfinals.”

The final phase pairings could have been different if only the USA went undefeated.

But the Americans were given a dose of reality as they absorbed a shocking 110-104 loss to Lithuania to finish second in Group J with a 4-1 record, setting up a quarterfinal clash with the Italians.

Then in a stunning reversal of fortunes, erstwhile unbeaten Lithuana failed to advance to the semifinals after getting the boot from Serbia, a team which Italy trounced in the second round.

Italy met the USA at possibly the worst time, with the Americans – hell-bent on redeeming themselves – raced to a sizable halftime lead on the way to handing the Azzurri their worst loss in World Cup history.

“They asked me what this group can do more – there is nothing this group can do more,” said Melli.

“We did everything we could do. This season, we will work even harder and come back next year and again and again ’til we finally make it.”

The defeat prevented Italy from reaching the semifinals for the first time since the 1978 edition, which coincidentally the Philippines also hosted.

Melli, though, is undeterred, believing the Italians’ time will come.

“This is something that we should cherish, that we should greatly value. As an athlete, as a basketball player, you want to win, you want to go home with something heavy around your neck,” said Melli.

“It is sports, it is life, we will be back.” –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Person, Human, Clothing


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.