The loss of Benetton Treviso's Andrea Bargnani to a foot injury on the eve of the U20 European Championship Men has seriously damaged Italy's chances, coach Fabrizio Frates admits.
Bargnani, a power forward NBA scouts are monitoring closely, would have been a potent scoring force and offered a real shot-blocking presence for Italy.
"It has really been a blow," said Frates.
||Andrea is one of our most interesting players
"Andrea is one of our most interesting players and I think this tournament would have been important for him and for his future, as well as for our team.
"It's always hard to have to renounce at the last minute.
"A European youth tournament allows these youngsters to possibility to test their capacity on the court and especially to try and deal with the responsibility at a competitive level."
Bargnani would have been one of the more experienced players for Frates, having competed in both Lega A and the Euroleague last season.
Now they will be facing the might of Lithuania in Group B without him.