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#pounditWednesday, May 29, 2024

Paolo Banchero ripped by Italian Federation over decision to play for Team USA

Paolo Banchero at a press conference

Jun 24, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic first overall draft pick Paolo Banchero speaks during a press conference at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero’s decision to snub Italy to play for Team USA internationally has left the Italians feeling quite jilted.

Reports on Saturday indicated that Banchero had decided to play for the United States in the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, passing on the chance to play for his father’s native Italy. The news apparently came as an unwelcome surprise to the Italian Basketball Federation, as president Gianni Petrucci had some sharp criticism of how he supposedly learned of Banchero’s decision.

“It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to communicate that to us. Instead, we learned about his decision from the newspapers,” Petrucci told La Gazzetta dello Sport, via BasketNews. “In the past few days, he was in Milan, and despite our agreements with his agency, he avoided the meeting with coach Pozzecco.

“Betrayal, especially in basketball, is a strong word. Situations like this happen, and personally, I’m used to it. But he fooled us, we were planning a great commercial strategy for him. Now we need to turn this disappointment into positive energy, I’m sure our coach will be able to do it.”

Banchero had spoken before about playing for Italy, and the federation clearly thought they had him lined up for the FIBA World Cup. Claiming Banchero skipped a meeting and did not directly inform the Italian federation is certainly a major allegation to make.

Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, was a big success with the Orlando Magic last season. He averaged 20.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a rookie, which likely played a big part in him getting the nod from the United States.

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