MANILA, Philippines — Italy has no time to sulk over its tough loss to the Dominican Republic as skipper Luigi Datome urges his team to keep the faith in themselves ahead of their crucial match against Gilas Pilipinas on Tuesday at Araneta Coliseum.
The world No. 10 Italy absorbed an 87-82 defeat in Group A with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andres Feliz powering the 23rd-ranked Dominicans with 24 points each on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Datome, who scored eight points, said they need to quickly shift their focus to Jordan Clarkson and Gilas after sliding to a 1-1 record.
“At this stage, you know, there’s no time for depression, no time for euphoria. I think we’ve been, we’re old enough, everybody went through important games, everybody played against tough home court,” said Datome.
“A very important game to prepare [for]. Prepare to move forward to the second round. We’re gonna rewatch for sure the game today. Prepare but keep on believing in ourselves, of course, keep on trusting each other. And we know it’s gonna be hard [against Gilas] like it was hard today like it was hard two days ago. Nothing different.” he added.
The Azzurri, who absorbed their first loss after going unbeaten in seven exhibition games prior to the World Cup, couldn’t sustain their blazing 12-0 start as their coach Gianmarco Pozzecco was ejected after getting his second technical foul late in the second quarter.
The Dominicans surged in the second half behind the hot hands of Feliz and Towns.
Marco Spissu led the Italians with 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists, as Simone Fontecchio scored 13 but shot 4-of-15 from the field.
“We started very good [in the] game. We were also controlling it, after for sure, they made, they created outside shots and they were good enough to make a lot of them, and vice versa, we created some good shots, we couldn’t make it — percentages again were not good for us and us as a team, if you don’t shoot well from three you gotta be almost perfect in the other aspects of the game,” said Datome. “Because we control the ball, we shoot good from two, not make [too much] turnovers but I think the key of the game was that. So, congrats to them. For us, we need to get ready for the next one, of course, it’s gonna be very important.”
Datome stressed the importance of guarding Clarkson and the players around him as they seek to book a seat in the next round.
“Of course, the Philippines, like Dominican Republic, they have a single great player and all around them there’s a good team. So for sure, it’s very important to limit this player, you cannot stop them, they’re so good, you can only limit them with teamwork,” he said. “[We have to] pay attention to the others because they are all good players and have a game plan, try to execute it, stick with it, and at the end of the day, we try to do the same thing.”
Datome and the Azzurri are also bracing for the home crowd, which set a new Fiba World Cup attendance record on opening day at Philippine Arena.
“It’s gonna be exciting, I think, [it’s] gonna be a nice atmosphere and all the players love to play in a nice atmosphere. We’re gonna control what we can do on the court. One day rest is just the environment. We need to be focused on our job,” he said.
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