Gianmarco Pozzecco reacts to Italy beating Puerto Rico to reach first Quarters since 1998


Photo: FIBA

Italy put an end to a 25-year dry spell by defeating Puerto Rico with a score of 73-57, securing their spot in the Quarter-Finals of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

This marked their first appearance in the top eight since 1998, making it an especially fitting occasion to celebrate Luigi Datome’s 200th game with the national team.

Giampaolo Riccia and Stefano Tonut led the way with 15 points each, and two other players also reached double figures for Italy. It’s worth noting that Italy has never managed to secure a spot on the World Cup podium.

Furthermore, this victory continued Italy’s impressive winning streak over Puerto Rico, now standing at 13-1, including their last 13 encounters, seven of which were in the World Cup. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, had only beaten Italy once, back in the 1963 World Cup.

In terms of the game’s dynamics, Italy got off to a strong start with a 15-0 run, giving them an 11-point lead. Although Puerto Rico managed to narrow the gap, Italy was ahead 30-20 at one point.

However, Puerto Rico made a comeback and briefly took the lead at 43-41. Italy then regained control with a 16-4 run, pushing their lead to 59-47 with 8 minutes left on the clock. Puerto Rico struggled to make a comeback from that point onward.

“I love my players,” Italy coach Gianmarco Pozzecco said. “They are amazing. I have 12 lions on the court, and they love each other. They are really focused on what they are doing.

“I asked them before the game if they want to continue, and they showed me on the court. And that is desire. We played against a team that played really good tonight. They played really good in this World Cup.”

Watch the game highlights between Italy and Puerto Rico in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023:

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