|Amedeo Della Valle wants to be in Tallinn playing for Italy U20 this summer, following on from his college freshman year at Ohio State|
By Mirco Melloni
Two years ago, Italy's run at the U18 European Championship ended one step off the podium. A few weeks ago, Ohio State's dream to reach the NCAA Final Four expired in the final possessions of the Regional Final game.
Now, Amedeo Della Valle wants to take it all. The 20-year-old is expected to lead Italy this summer at the U20 European Championship in Estonia as he attempts to claim revenge following his 2011 experience: the guard was the leading scorer at the U18 European Championship up until he got injured in the quarter-finals.
In his absence, Italy agonisingly finished one spot off the podium in fourth position.
"When I play, winning is my only target," said Della Valle, who is coming off his freshman year at Ohio State University, where he won the NCAA Big Ten Conference before losing the quarter-finals in Los Angeles, against Wichita State.
Despite the disappointing loss to Wichita State, the former Casale Monferrato guard has something to be proud off: no European player went further than him in the 2013 Tournament.
Also, no Italian player before him had gone so far in an NCAA Tournament, with the previous record holder, Daniel Hackett (with Southern California) only making it as far as the Sweet 16.
|Amedeo Della Valle could only look on in agony in 2011 at the U18 European Championship, after he got injured in the quarter-finals |
"My first college year was a learning experience, both on and off the court," said the son of Carlo Della Valle, a former Italian international and star in Turin in the '80s.
"I didn't play a lot in my freshman year, but I kept working, I know my time will come, I will try to earn more minutes. I enjoyed living [through] the March Madness experience."
Now the former U18 European All Star is eager to play for the Azzurri in Tallinn, where Stefano Sacripanti will be attempting to lead his team out of Group D (against France, Slovenia and hosts Estonia) on the path to taking them to a gold medal - the only medal missing on the mantle of the Italian U20 team, who won silver in Bilbao in 2011 and bronze in Gorizia and Nova Gorica in 2007.
"Even though I am loving my experience in the United States, I miss Italy a little bit, and I would be honoured to get a chance to pull on the Azzurri shirt. I am working on my physical condition in order to get ready for the Under 20 European Championships and for the next college basketball season."
Looking at the continental tournament this summer, Della Valle is quietly confident of his team's chances: "We will line up [with] the same group of players who almost earned a medal two years ago [at U18 level]."
Included in that U18 team were, "guys like guards Matteo Imbro and Marco Lagana [who have since] managed to play in Serie A, earning good experience."
"I am excited, I want to win. Without this kind of mentality I wouldn't even get on the court."