FIBA World Cup

Italy captain Datome celebrates 200th national team game with World Cup quarterfinal clincher

JR Isaga

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Italy captain Datome celebrates 200th national team game with World Cup quarterfinal clincher

SPARKPLUG. Italy captain Luigi Datome handles the ball in the 2023 FIBA World Cup


Former NBA player Luigi Datome is thankful his 200th national team game did not turn out to be his last as Italy moves on to the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals

MANILA, Philippines – On Sunday, September 3, Italy team captain Luigi Datome celebrated a basketball career milestone with his 200th national team game against Puerto Rico in the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila.

To celebrate their leader’s achievement, Giampaolo Ricci, Stefan Tonut, and Simone Fontecchio made sure Italy would not sing Datome’s swan song just yet as they blasted the Puerto Ricans out of contention, 73-57, with a 22-10 fourth-quarter surge.

Datome, who was no slouch himself with 11 points in just 16 minutes off the bench, is nothing but grateful that he and his teammates got it together after three whole quarters of back-and-forth momentum.

“Very happy. Very happy. If we would have lost, it [would have] not been a big celebration for me for 200 games. It [would] be my last and we [would be] going home. I will remember this game with pleasure because it’s an important win for us,” said the 35-year-old star.

Ricci and Tonut led the winning charge with 15 points apiece, while top scorer Fontecchio bucked a 5-of-16 shooting night with a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double.

Datome, for his part, has been the glue guy Italy needed especially in the last two games, where he averaged 10.5 points in just 14.5 minutes.

In both contests, he was vital in sparking the Azzurri’s second-half rallies, prompting Fontecchio to make special note of his captain’s efforts and remind people of his legendary status.

Datome, however, is staying grounded amid the praises, saying that he is just a role player fulfilling his duties.

“It happened for two games and I’m ready to help if this is the case,” he continued. “I always try to give my best. I try only to do the right things on the court.”

“Sometimes, the ball goes in and you look at replay or the ball goes out, and it’s a disaster. I try to find my balance.”

Datome and the rest of Italy are now gearing up for the biggest upset of the tournament, as mighty USA awaits in the knockout quarterfinal at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, September 5. –

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