Team Italy soars in their quest for a quarter-final birth behind Simone Fontecchio.
Of all the players who needed to show their worth and value in the FIBA World Cup, none may have needed a good to great outing as the Utah Jazz’s Simone Fontecchio. The Italian forward had an up-and-down run with the Jazz so far, and with the team in a state of flux at the moment, his place on the squad and in its future plans was not guaranteed.
He needed to have a good run with Team Italy, and he needed to look every bit the player the national team hoped he’d be. With country icon Danilo Gallinari on his last legs as a pro player, and sitting out what could very likely be his last international tournament, the squad shifted gears to Fontecchio.
Fontecchio was a solid Euro player before arriving in Utah, and since he joined the Jazz, has largely been more a guy who gets a few minutes per game. Now, back with the national team in Italy, he’s taken center stage as the team’s offensive focus.
Currently sitting at 3-1 across two rounds of action, Fontecchio has set Team Italy up to advance to the third round. All they have to do is defeat Puerto Rico on Sunday, Sept. 3, and Italy moves on to the third round.
And despite Puerto Rico having a solid squad, with the way Fontecchio is playing, it’ll be a bit of a shock if Team Italy doesn’t advance to the single-elimination stage of the competition. After all, he just knocked off a hardened Team Serbia, which included Bogdan Bogdanovic and rising forward Nikola Jovic. Neither man could slow down the offensive avalanche that was Fontecchio, who dropped30 points, on a pristine 11/15 shooting.
With Italy in control of their own destiny, the team may not only make a lot of noise as it moves into the single-round elimination portion of the tournament, but Fontecchio’s personal stock may have risen enough to see him get more minutes with the Jazz.