Recalcati Regret Over Italian Defense, AQR Failure


The post-mortem is underway for Italian basketball after their last-place finish in the EuroBasket Additional Qualifying Round  Group B was confirmed in a 95-89 home defeat to Finland on Thursday.

Hopeful before the summer of reaching next month's EuroBasket in Poland, the Azzurri crashed to a third defeat in four games after Finland's red-hot shooting display from long range.

Henrik Dettman's team hit 16 of 31 shots from behind the arc to clinch second place behind France.

"We lost due to our terrible defense," Italy coach Carlo Recalcati said.

"We gave our opponents room to shoot, especially from long range.

"In Finland, we had won because we had limited their three-point shots, but this time our defensive transition didn´t work.

"We couldn´t hope to win when you give away so much."

Just where Italy goes next remains to be seen. A European basketball power that won the EuroBasket 10 years ago and played at the Sydney Games and Athens Olympics, winning silver in the latter, is now failing to qualify for tournaments.

The team could have used Danilo Gallinari, who was kept out of the Additional Qualifying Round games after back surgery, but they did have Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli and yet won just once.

"The balance remains negative, not so much because we failed to qualify but by the manner in which we did it," Recalcati said.

For the Finns, the victory is further evidence they are a team on the rise.

Their exciting guard Petteri Koponen, who knows the Italian players well since he is a guard at Virtus Bologna, had 26 points against the Azzurri with 15 of them coming from long range.

Both teams will be in Division A of the EuroBasket 2011 qualifying campaign.

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