Paolo Banchero complimented the Italian national team for defeating Serbia in EuroBasket 2022 and admitted that he enjoys watching European basketball. He expects to improve as a player and give his all for Italy next year.

Credit: USA TODAY Sports-Scanpix
Credit USA TODAY Sports-Scanpix

Fingers are crossed in Italy that rising star Paolo Banchero will suit up for the Azzurri next summer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

2-pointers this season

Points made: 29,1
Accuracy: 54,4%
Place in standings: 16
Record max: 46
Record min: 22
Most made 2FGs: Paolo Banchero

Banchero, the top pick in this summer's NBA Draft by Orlando, is excited about the prospect of playing for the Italians. His father is of Italian descent while his mother is a former USA national team player. Banchero wants to feel the buzz of the international game.

"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," he told FIBA in early November.

This summer, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo competed at EuroBasket 2022. So did Banchero's Orlando Magic teammate, Franz Wagner.

The projected first overall pick in next year's NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama, played in Window 5 of the World Cup European Qualifiers.

"I really think that FIBA basketball is very interesting, and watching the guys play for their national teams is something great to watch and to analyze," Banchero said. "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."

"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, is great for European basketball. Their passion and love to represent their country is a great thing to see."

Italy, despite being underdogs, won their Round of 16 game against Serbia. Even though head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco was ejected in the first half, the players battled back to defeat the overwhelming favorites.

"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," Banchero said. "That was very impressive, very good to watch. 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."

Italy raised a lot of eyebrows with their victory over Serbia, a country with a rich tradition in basketball and one that has produced some of the best players in the world.

"To beat a team like Serbia, it shows what the Squadra Azzura is capable of," Banchero told. "We have a very good team, and the future is bright, that's for sure."

Danilo Gallinari, who got hurt before the EuroBasket and couldn't play in Milan and Berlin, has also spoken highly of Banchero. 

"I have a lot of respect for his career and for being such a great example for Italian basketball," Banchero said. "I love his moves, the way he shoots the ball; he is a fantastic scorer and his long career speaks for itself. He's been helping the national team for such a long time, and he's a great leader, a guy you want to play with. Danilo is a baller, that's for sure."

Banchero is confident he can make whatever adjustments are needed to play what some call "FIBA ball". He is proving already to be a star in the NBA.

"I'm not worried about it because I am a student of the game and I know that I'll do all the adjustments and be the best player I can be at every level," he said. "I like to learn and to improve as a player, and I'll adapt and be ready to play at FIBA level, that's for sure."

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Paolo Banchero

Paolo  Banchero
Team: Orlando Magic
Position: PF
Age: 20
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 113 kg
Birth place: United States of America