In the upcoming quarter-final match between Italy and the United States at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, we’ll witness a showdown. Italy, the European team, is excited to be among the final eight teams, while the USA is looking to recover from a loss to Lithuania and get back on track to win the championship.
The Italian team started the tournament without much attention but now has the opportunity to surprise the world under the leadership of Gianmarco Pozzecco. On the other hand, the USA has been impressive in the tournament except for the loss to Lithuania. They aim to win their sixth world title and make up for their quarter-final exit against France in the 2019 tournament in China.
Key Matchup: Italy faces the challenge of slowing down Anthony Edwards, a formidable player for the USA. However, the critical matchup to watch is Nicolo Melli versus USA center Jaren Jackson Jr. In their previous game against Lithuania, the USA was out-rebounded 43-27, and Italy has crafty and experienced frontcourt players. Rebounding, especially on the offensive end, will play a significant role in determining which team controls the game.
X-Factor: In their game against Lithuania, the USA struggled in the first quarter, being outscored 31-12. Coach Steve Kerr stressed the importance of a strong start for his team. If the USA can score early, it will make it challenging for Italy to catch up, given their limited scoring options.
Additionally, anticipate aggressive defensive pressure from the USA right from the beginning of the game, similar to what they showed in the second half against Lithuania. If they can maintain this intensity for the entire game, Italy will face difficulties.
Stats Tell the Story: Italy’s defense has been outstanding in their last two games, holding Serbia to 76 points (28.7 points below their average) and the Dominican Republic to just 57 points (well below their average of 92 points). The USA enters the game averaging 101.4 points. It will be interesting to see if Italy’s strong defense can lower the USA’s scoring average.
Past Matchups: The USA has a dominant 12-2 record against Italy, including wins in their last four encounters. Italy has won only two of their eight World Cup games against the USA, with victories in 1970 and 1978.
Notable: A unique aspect of this game is USA power forward Paolo Banchero, whose father has Italian roots. The Italian National Federation had reached out to him last summer, but he decided to represent the United States.
They Said: Italy coach Gianmarco Pozzecco praised his players for their heart and teamwork, highlighting their talent and unique spirit. USA coach Steve Kerr acknowledged the loss to Lithuania but emphasized the importance of learning to play with greater intensity, especially in the FIBA setting.