Italy found themselves in a dire situation, on the brink of losing their chance at reaching the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Quarter-Finals. However, in their moment of desperation, Gigi, the captain of Italy’s team, emerged as the savior.
Luigi Datome, the Italian team’s revered leader, harkened back to his past stellar performances for Italy and may have single-handedly salvaged their quest for a historic World Cup medal. Italy faced a daunting 16-point deficit against Serbia, with the third quarter almost halfway through, casting a gloomy shadow over their chances of advancing to a 3-1 record in Group I.
But Datome, at 35 years old, displayed his basketball prowess by executing a jaw-dropping dunk, sinking two crucial three-pointers, and nailing a turnaround jumper—all within a mere 100 seconds. This extraordinary burst of skill brought Italy within a single point of Serbia’s lead as they entered the fourth quarter.
Gigi’s performance was nothing short of legendary. “What he did today was just a cherry on top of his career. It was something unbelievable,” exclaimed Simone Fontecchio, who contributed 30 points to secure Italy’s hard-fought 78-76 victory.
“He showed us the way when we were down by 16. No matter what, he kept playing at 35. He was simply amazing, leading by example. He’s our captain, our leader, and the best teammate you can imagine. That truly inspired us to summon the last ounces of energy in our bodies to mount a comeback,” Fontecchio added.
Nicolo Melli, who has shared the court with Datome for many years, saw this as a classic display of Gigi’s character. “He’s one of our veterans, our captain, and he embodies the values of this team. He displayed the same character he has shown throughout his career,” Melli remarked.
Those 10 crucial points were the only ones Datome scored in that game, following a total of 17 points in Italy’s previous three matches. Despite his struggles, Datome remained unwavering in his belief in his shooting abilities and, most importantly, was bolstered by his teammates and coach’s faith in him.
“I’ve been struggling with my three-point shot, but I’ve continued to believe in myself and my shot. More importantly, my teammates have never stopped believing in me and my coach,” the ever-humble veteran shared. “I’m happy that I made my contribution, but today, I can’t recall a single player who didn’t contribute to this victory.”
Thanks to Datome’s remarkable 100-second performance, Italy’s dreams of World Cup success are still alive.