We are recalling all foreign players that have ever played in the League, telling about foreign championships and National teams of different countries in World basketball map project. Today we’re going to talk about basketball in IItaly.
Population: 60.3 mln
Players in the history of League: 1
Full list of players: Daniel Hackett
Daniel Hackett is the only Italian in the history of VTB United League. The Forlimpolian joined CSKA on summer 2018 and has been performing for the Red-blues since then (50 games, 9.1 points). As a CSKA player, he won Euroleague and VTB United League 2019.
There were also two American players with Italian passports in the history of the League: Christian Burns and Jeff Brooks. Burns represented Enisey (2013/14) and Nymburk (2014/15) while Brooks played for Avtodor (2015/16).
Moreover, VTB League had seven Italian head coaches: Sergio Scariolo (Khimki, 2009-10), Matteo Boniciolli (Astana, 2011-13), Luca Bechi (Azovmash, 2012), Ettore Messina (CSKA 2012-14), Andrea Trinchieri (UNICS, 2013-14), Andrea Mazzon (Avtodor, 2017) and Luca Banchi (Lokomotiv-Kuban, 2019).
Basketball in Italy
League: Lega Basket Serie A (LBA)
Number of teams: 17
League’s web-site: http://www.legabasket.it/
Italian league is one of the oldest in the world, this year they’re celebrating 100th anniversary. Within the entire league’s history, there were 99 teams, 17 of which reached the title. Milan with 28 titles is the most successful club.
As of today, there are 17 teams in Lega Basket Serie A. In 2020/21 season, 9 clubs will represent Italy in Europe: Milan will play in Euroleague; Virtus Bologna, Brescia, Reyer Venezia and Trento will join Eurocup; Dinamo Sassari, Brindisi and Bologna are set to compete in the Champions League; Reggio Emilia will be the only team to represent Italy in FIBA Europe Cup.
Lega Basetk Serie A participating clubs are obliged to have home arenas with minimal capacity of 3500, while the minimum capacity for the playoffs is 5000.
Many American players participated in the Italian league: NBA legends and hall of famers Bob McAdoo, Spencer Haywood, Dominique Wilins, Artis Gilmore and Bill Bradley, plus 1980 draft #1 pick Joe Barry Carroll. Moreover, Lega Basket Serie A welcomed players (Pavel Podkolzin and Valeri Likhodei) and coaches (Sergey Bazarevich and Evgeny Pashutin) from Russia.
There are 5 annual awards in Italian league: regular season MVP, final MVP, Rookie of the year (U22), Best coach and Best manager. In 2010, ex-Krasnye Krylia forward Omar THomas won regular season MVP, and in 2014/15, the same award went to Tony Mitchell who had previously played for Krasny Oktyabr. VTB League fans remember some of final MVP winners: Ramunas Siskauskas (CSKA, 2009-12), Austin Daye (Khimki, 2011), Rimantas Kaukenas (Zalgiris, 2012-13), Andrew Goudelock (UNICS 2013-14), Melvin Ejim (UNICS, 2017-19) and Daniel Hackett (CSKA, since 2018).
Interesting fact #1
The legend of Italian basketball Pierluigi Marzorati is the oldest professional player to take part in the official game, plus the only player who played in five different decades.
Marzorati started professional career at 17, in 1969, and had been playing for Cantu for 22 years. Having finished his career in 1991, Pierluigi took an office of club’s vice president until 1996. On October 8, 2006, 54-year-old Marzorati stepped on court as a player again. Celebrating club’s 70th anniversary, he played 2 minutes in Cantu’s season opener against Benetton. This made him the only professional player to perform in official games of five decades, and the oldest player to participate in the official game.
Interesting fact #2
On August 25, 1985, Nike organized exhibition game between Stefanel Trieste and Juve Caserta in Triest. 21-year-old Michael Jordan – who had finished his first NBA season and won Rookie of the year – played for the home team. Jordan scored 30 points and marked his performance with literally destroying the rim with his powerful dunk.
Interesting fact #3
Between the ages of 6 and 13, Kobe Bryant lived in Italy where his father Joe played. His first basketball steps were made in Europe. Kobe played in school team, and at the same time was a football fan supporting Milan. After the years in the country, Bryant became fluent Italian speaker.
Italy National team
FIBA rank: 12
FIBA members: since 1992
Achievements: 2-time Eurobasket champions (1983, 1999), 2-time silver medalists of the Olympics (1980, 2004)
The first official game of Gli Azzuri was on April 4, 1926. In Milan, Italy beat France 23:17. 6 years later, Italy joined FIBA.
The Italians played their first Eurobasket in 1935, Olympics in 1936 and World Cup in 1963 only. The first success were silver medals of Europe in 1937 in 1946. In 1937 Eurobasket final, they were beaten by Lithuania (23:24), and in 1946, Czechoslovakia won the key game (32:34).
The rise of the Italian team happened in 80s and 90s. Within two decades, Italy won two Eurobaskets (1983, 1999), silver medals of the Olympics (1980), two silver medals of Eurobasket (1991, 1997) and Eurobasket bronze (1985). In 1999, Gregor Fucka was the first Italian to win Eurobasket MVP.
In 21st century, Italy won two international medals: silver of 2004 Olympics where they outplayed the USA, Spain and Lithuania, and bronze of 2003 Eurobasket, where they beat Tony Parker’s France in 3rd place game (69:67). Italy haven’t played at the Olympics after 2004, and only had two World Cup appearances.
Moreover, Italy hosted international competitions three times: 1960 Olympic basketball tournament was played in Rome, and Italian cities hosted Eurobasket games in 1969, 1979 and 1991.
Today, Italy are ranked 12th by FIBA, higher than Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia and Germany.
The most famous Italian players in the history
Dino Meneghin. 1983 Eurobasket champion, Olympic silver medalist, 7-times Euroleague champion and 4-times FIBA Intercontinental cup champion. In 1991, Meneghin was included in FIBA Top 50 players, in 2006, joined the Italian hall of fame, and in 2008 was honoured among 50 Greatest Euroleague contributors. In 2019, Milan retired his playing jersey #11.
Antonella Riva. Eurobasket 1983, 2 Euroleagues, Italian league and FIBA Intercontinental cup. Riva is the top scorer within all history of the Italian league with 14397 points (18.3 PPG). Riva was included in FIBA Top 50 players (1991) and Euroleague’s 50 Great contributors (2008).
Pierluigi Marzorat. The point guard spent his entire career in Cantu, won two Euroleagues, two Italian leagues and FIBA Intercontinental cup. Honoured in FIBA Top 50 players (1991), Italian basketball hall of fame (2007), Euroleague’s 50 Great contributors (2008).
Danilo Gallinari. 2008 NBA draft 6th pick, 11 seasons in NBA, top scoring Italian player (9777 points) in the association. In 2008, the forward won the Italian league with Milan and won Euroleague Rising Star award.
Gregor Fucka. 1999 Eurobasket champion and MVP, Euroleague champion, 2-times Italian champion and 2-times Spanish champion. In 2005, the 215-cm center made 11 offensive rebounds in Euroleague game which matched the previous record. Fucka has been leading Italian youth teams since 2017.
Worth mentioning. Aldo Ossola, Massimo Masini, Marco Belinelli, Andrea Bargnani.