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NBA rising star Banchero on playing for Italy: I’ll give everything

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NBA rising star Banchero on playing for Italy: I’ll give everything

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic dunks in the game against the Golden State Warriors at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, November 3, 2022. /CFP

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic dunks in the game against the Golden State Warriors at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, November 3, 2022. /CFP

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic dunks in the game against the Golden State Warriors at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, November 3, 2022. /CFP

Paolo Banchero, who had been performing greatly in the NBA since he was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first-overall pick in June, told FIBA ​​that he has been looking forward to playing for Italy at the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup next year.

“The way of playing is a bit different, but I’ll give everything, all my energy, and impact the national team in the best way I can,” Banchero said. He is currently resting to recover from a sprained left ankle, but before that, he started in all of the games for the Magic and scored 20+ points in nine of them. He is not a reliable 3-point shooter (25.6 percent of 3-point rate), but Banchero has already shown rare aggressiveness for a rookie by earning 8.3 free throws per game.

Despite his 2.08-meter height and 113-kilogram weight, Banchero has underestimated agility and a complete set of offensive skills that allow him to play as a guard on the court. That means he can be a total mismatch no matter the opponents use smaller, or bigger defenders to guard him.

Paolo Banchero (R) of the Orlando Magic penetrates in the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 1, 2022. /CFP

Paolo Banchero (R) of the Orlando Magic penetrates in the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 1, 2022. /CFP

Paolo Banchero (R) of the Orlando Magic penetrates in the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 1, 2022. /CFP

That was exactly how many NBA teams felt when they were facing a lot of today’s European players, including Nikola Jokic of Serbia, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, Luka Doncic of Slovenia, Lauri Markkanen of Finland and, of course, Banchero’s Magic teammate Franz Wagner of Germany.

All of the above players competed at FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 and made excellent performance in the tournament.

“I really think that FIBA ​​basketball is very interesting, and watching the guys play for their national teams is something great to watch and analyze,” Banchero told FIBA. “The EuroBasket was very, very competitive, and the fans sounded fantastic, looking at those filled arenas and loud crowds that played their sixth man role so well. That’s amazing.”

Luka Doncic (#77) of Slovenia drives toward the rim in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinal game against Poland at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 14, 2022. /CFP

Luka Doncic (#77) of Slovenia drives toward the rim in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinal game against Poland at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 14, 2022. /CFP

Luka Doncic (#77) of Slovenia drives toward the rim in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinal game against Poland at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 14, 2022. /CFP

“The teams were filled with very talented guys, and a couple of NBA stars, but despite that, Spain won and showed that basketball is a team sport and that teams that play very united and share the ball have more chances to win titles and medals The level of competitiveness in Europe is very, very high, and the future is very bright. Seeing guys like Giannis, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, for example, are great for European basketball. Their passion and love to represent their country is a great thing to see,” Banchero added.

Although Italy lacked their best scorer Danilo Gallinari, the team managed to come back and eliminate Serbia led by two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic 94-86 in the Round of 16 game.

Nikola Jokic (#15) of Serbia shoots in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16 game against Italy at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 11, 2022. /CFP

Nikola Jokic (#15) of Serbia shoots in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16 game against Italy at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 11, 2022. /CFP

Nikola Jokic (#15) of Serbia shoots in the FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16 game against Italy at EuroBasket Arena Berlin in Berlin, Germany, September 11, 2022. /CFP

Although “Gli Azzurri” (The Blues) lost to France in the quarterfinals, the team’s guard Nico Mannion believes the arrival of Banchero can upgrade them from “good” to “great.”

“They had very good games, and I really liked the way they played against Serbia, where they showed unbelievable defense and great movement on offense. That was very impressive, very good to watch,” Banchero said. “The passion and the unity they have is fantastic, and the passion that the coach and the staff put on; the way the team plays is also superb. To beat a team like Serbia, it shows what the Squadra Azzura is capable of. We have a very good team, and the future is bright, that’s for sure.”

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