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Блог Этторе Мессины о баскетболе

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Italy and Russia: don't give us a penny!

Eurobasket is knocking on our door and these days we hear lots of opinions on the web. Personally, I will write a column covering the tournament for El Pais, Spanish newspaper. But here I want to share some thoughts on the teams that are most important to us.

Italian National team struggles a lot. Not only due to Gallinari and Galanda injuries, but because Bargnani is out of shape – he also had an injury, – and the chemistry, the relationship between veterans and young superstars (or supposed-to-be superstars), is not good. As a result, there are a lot of unhappy people on the team – just look at the faces. Italy has recently lost to Greece at home by 21 points in a preparation game in front of 12 thousand people. If you are a healthy team in your mind, you can't lose by 21. You can lose but not in the disgrace we saw. So, honestly, I am really worried about Italian national team.

Last years we were a true team, strong mentally. Now it looks like two groups have problems to coexist and the identity of the team is lost. I am very concerned. I think it's a very difficult moment for our national team.

As for Russia, I saw only the game against Italy and a practice here, at CSKA. And it's another team for which chemistry will be the key. Russia is struggling a lot physically. Padius has not recovered yet, Khryapa is coming off a season where he played only few minutes. Russia is not a deep team. It has few reliable players who can compete on this level.

For both teams the way they start will probably determine the way they finish. They need some confidence. The game against France for Russia and the game against Greece for Italy left something in their minds. And the only way to erase these memories is to win the first game. Plus both teams need to advance to second round with at least one win. Otherwise they will start with zero.

What is very important – both teams went to Spain with very low expectations. I can say for Italy: every time we go to a tournament with high expectations we play badly, every time people don't give us a penny we play well.

I liked the way Russia played against Italy. A lot of passing, moving, cutting. David Blatt has a difficult job as all the players came from different clubs with different philosophies and David has his own philosophy. He gave 100 percent, but only the result will say if he did a good job.

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