|06 November 2006|
Italy's female basketball players have had precious little chance to attract much attention in recent years as the team has not played in a EuroBasket Women event since 1999 when they finished a disappointing 11th place.
All that, however, is about to change as the Italians prepare to host EuroBasket Women 2007 in Chieti. The event, and the exposure it brings, has give some of Italy's top national team players the opportunity to turn heads, and not just on the court.
Raffaella Masciadri, Federica Ciampoli, Lavinia Santucci, Maraichiara Franchini, Simona Ballardini and Monica Bonafede were featured in the October edition of women's magazine Donna In Forma - as lingerie models.
|Italian players showed their national team colours in the Donna In Forma Magazine article (photos by Ugo Zamborlini).|
The eight-page spread features the players in uniform and also displaying the Intimissimi lingerie line.
“Someone from the federation proposed that we do this photo shoot so that we could promote EuroBasket Women which takes places next year here in Italy,” said Raffaella Masciadri, who was one of the models that took part in the photo shoot.
“They told us we would be doing photos with our basketball uniforms on, but then they changed the idea to the lingerie.”
“It was fun. It’s a new way to see basketball players.”
Masciadri, a six-year national team veteran and also one of the top players with Schio in the EuroLeague Women, felt quite comfortable taking part in the photo shoot.
“It was like being on the beach,” she said.
“It is the right way to promote basketball. In Italy, there’s not much promotion of women’s basketball. Now they start to show basketball women’s basketball on TV. They start to promote us, but women’s basketball is still not promoted like other sports. It [the photo shoot] is the first step to improve on this.”
The photos were taken by Ugo Zamborlini, who previously worked with Masciadri on a photo shoot several years ago for a basketball promotional assignment.
“He did the photos in a good way – in good taste,” Masciadri said.
“If it is done in a good way, then it is good way to promote basketball.”
Masciadri and her teammates from the national side have their sights set on a strong showing in EuroBasket Women 2007.
“I am excited about it. It will be a great way to promote women’s basketball in Italy.”
“Our team is going in the right direction. We are a young team. But we have players with experience in the EuroLeague and in the WNBA. We have to play hard and also play to have fun so that way we can create the highest result possible.”
Masciadri is so excited about the prospects of helping her national team that she has put her WNBA career in the United States on hold.
The 182-cm forward played with Los Angeles in 2004 and 2005, but didn’t suit up with the Sparks this past summer.
“I had some tournaments with Italy, so I didn’t play with the Sparks,” she said.
“It is important I play with Italy so that we can have good results in the EuroBasket Women 2007. But one day I would like to return to L.A.”
Italy was drawn with France, Russia and Greece, so advancing out of the first round will not be an easy task.
|Raffaella Masciadri and her Schio teammates will play TEO Vilnius this Wednesday.|
“There are 16 teams and they are all strong,” Masciadri said.
“Maybe it is good to play tough teams like France and Russia in the beginning so we are ready from the start to play hard against strong teams.”
For now, Masciadri is focusing on her EuroLeague Women season with Famila.
Despite her 21 points, the Italian outfit lost to USO Mondeville 85-67 last week in their EuroLeague Women opener.
Famila had to play their opening EuroLeague Women contest without star Penny Taylor, who will most likely be out two more weeks due to a hand injury.
“We are a new team, so we have to find our chemistry,” she said.
“We need to time to come together.”
The lingerie model and basketball talent will take her skills and good looks to Lithuania this Wednesday as Schio play against TEO Vilnius.