By Cindy-Garcia Bennett, PA International
Carlo Recalcati’s bronze-medal winning heroics as the Azzurri boss at the European Championships have landed him a new job in the Italian top flight.
Montepaschi Siena have signed the 58-year-old coach to a two-year contract and allowed him to remain in charge of Italy, which means he will oversee their preparations for next summer’s Olympic Games and then coach them in Athens.
"I am very happy because Siena represent not only the present but the future of this (basketball) momevement,” he said.
"My work as coach of Siena will be total but I will continue to be the Azzurri manager."
This summer has added to an impressive basketball career for Recalcati.
As a player, the Milan-born star was three times the league’s most valuable player with Cantu and he was also a mainstay of the national team, winning two bronze medals at European Championships and also playing in the Olympics.
As a coach, he has several titles in his trophy cabinet, most recently the 1999-2000 award when he was in charge of Fortitudo Bologna.
He parted ways with Fortitudo in July 2001 and then grabbed the national team reins.
Recalcati doesn’t believe his new job will affect his duties with the national team.
"All my colleagues from the other national teams that were in Sweden are in the same position as me and they coach clubs," said Recalcati.
The triumph in Sweden has truly enhanced his credentials.
Italy won the European Championships four years ago but hardly anyone gave them a chance of even taking home a medal in Sweden, especially without Gregor Fucka and Carlton Myers following their retirements from the international game.
The Azzurri were one of the sides without an NBA player in their ranks but no other group, other than eventual champions Lithuanian, displayed excellent team play like the Azzurri did.
Much of the credit has gone to Recalcati.
Recalcati expects to have a similary type of unity, and determination at Siena, the winners of the Saporta Cup in 2002 and last year’s fourth-placed team in Italy.
"I hope the spirit of Montepaschi Siena will be the same as that of the national team, it is the same coach but a different team,” he said.
"Siena has to go for a winning season, we can aspire to do something important. I am not saying that we will win the title but certainly we will begin with the intention to do so."
Recalcati takes over from Ergin Ataman, who departed following Siena’s semi-final knockout in the Italian play-offs by Benetton Treviso.
At Montepaschi Siena, Recalcati will guide two of his national team players: Giacomo Galanda and Roberto Chiacig.