FIBA: Italy’s Gigi Datome bids basketball goodbye
MANILA — Luigi Datome has played his last game ever for the Azzurri.
The 6-foot-8, 20-year hoops veteran, has had a long storied career donning different uniforms in the EuroLeague and the NBA, and its conclusion came so fitting as he was donning Italy’s team colors.
The former EuroLeague champion tallied only a point and two rebounds in over 10 minutes of action, and despite enduring defeat at the hands of the Luka Doncic-starred Slovenia, Datome was still proud of his team’s eighth place at the end of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“Today was very emotional, of course, [and] I hope this is why I played so badly,” he quipped following the game.
“Of course, we were trying to finish with a win. It’s an important game. My teammates played hard and tried everything to try to make me finish with a win.”
“Regardless, after many years, I’ve learned that it’s not the most important thing in our lives. As the captain, I’m proud of this team for what we did.”
Over his stint with the Italian men’s national basketball team, Datome has played in two World Cups aside from the numerous appearances in the EuroBasket, which is why the former Detroit Pistons forward saw how Italy locked horns with the world’s best of the best.
“I think we showed that we could compete at the highest level,” the former Boston Celtic said.
“[It was] only against the USA that we couldn’t compete because I think they were way better than us, but we competed with Dominicana, Serbia, Latvia, Slovenia.”
“We’ve beaten good teams.”
“So I’m proud of my teammates. I’m also grateful for my teammates because they treated me so well this summer. They made me feel special, [and] it was really one of the best summers of my life just because these guys are so special to me.”
But even if he is bidding basketball goodbye, Datome, like the competitor he has always been, is urging his squad to continue furthering their play for them to reach even greater heights.
“But of course, we miss something else. I think our team needs to mind the level that we need to reach if we want to compete for the medal, that’s the ultimate goal,” he emphasized.
“We’re on a good level but we can do something more if we want to go farther. I think everybody should have this goal in the future because we are very close every time, but we cannot break the wall of quarterfinals.”
“Hopefully, in the future, we can.”
For more stories on the FIBA World Cup, click here.
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