Italy Seek Athens Boost

05 September 2005

Italy are looking to find their best form in the Acropolis Tournament but have been warned they will be put to the test by an inspired Greece.

The Azzurri, who finished second best in the recent Efes Pilsen tournament following a shock 81-56 defeat against Turkey, are looking to find their winning mentality in a land that proved to be a lucky charm for Carlo Recalcati's side one year ago.

Michail Kakiouzis (Greece)
Greece's Michail Kakiouzis has high hopes for his team at EuroBasket
The Olympic silver medalists take on Serbia & Montenegro, Germany and Greece before travelling to Milan for their last preparation game against France on September 13.

Recalcati is aware of the importance of the Athens tournament which will be Italy's last attempt to find the balance they appeared to have lost throughout the summer before they begin the EuroBasket.

"We are happy to return to Athens because it has an important significance for what we achieved here one year ago at the Olympics," Recalcati said.

"At this point of the preparation it is the defeats that give coaches more information on the state of the team.

"We are trying to find our best condition and I hope that the teams that we come up against will give us the right motivation to do so."

Recalcati should not worry on that score as hosts Greece, who recently triumphed against Germany, will be keen to avenge their defeat against the Azzurri in last month's Adriatic Tournament where they lost 98-96 in overtime.

"We have won against Germany in the Braunschweig tournament but that is not the end just the beginning," said Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis.

"We want to find out what this result means for a team that has been growing in the past two years, and that points towards youth and a stronger collective."

Greek international Michalis Kakiouzis, who was coached by Recalcati at Montepaschi Siena last season, has no doubt in his mind that his national team can go far in the EuroBasket.

"We can win," claimed Kakiouzis, who signed for Spanish giants Barcelona this summer.

"For the first time in several years we have the same group of players that trains and grows with the same coach for the past two years."

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