|23 April 2014|
|Good news for Reggio Emilia as Angelo Gigli recovered from his hamstring injury and will return at the Final Four|
Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia big man Angelo Gigli has been cleared to play in the EuroChallenge Final Four, which tips off on Friday in Bologna.
The 31-year-old Italian international had sustained a grade-two strain of his right hamstring in late March but has re-joined his team-mates in practice in the run-up to the big event, to which his team are playing host.
"I went through the entire practice session, although it was mainly tactics," Gigli told local daily Il Resto del Carlino on Tuesday.
"But from now on I will also participate in five-on-five play, in other words I am ready.
Gigli had been sidelined for the entire month of April and was not even on Reggio Emilia's 12-man squad for last weekend's home game against Pesaro in Serie A action.
There were serious doubts on whether the experienced forward/center would return to full fitness before his team's Friday semi-final with Turkish side Royal Hali Gaziantep.
"I was convinced since the first moment that I would make it on time and worked on my rehabilitation with utmost determination," Gigli said.
"I really need though to thank our medical staff and our physiotherapist who worked really hard to speed up the process.
"I would not have made it without them."
Gigli might have received the all-clear from the medical team of Reggio Emilia but this doesn't mean that his condition is ideal.
"There is still some pain and there will be, but I can take it," the 2.09m Italian international explained.
"But there is no more risk to aggravate the injury.
"The weekend event is just too important to miss out."
Gigli, who returned to childhood club Reggio Emilia on loan from EA7 Emporio Armani during the winter break, averaged 7.8 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds in his four games in this EuroChallenge season.
The significance of his solid presence under the basket cannot be underestimated as the Final Four hosts do not have an abundance of big bodies.
"[Head coach Massimiliano] Menetti told us that this, right now, is the most important week in the entire year and we have to focus on Europe and forget about the league.
"He's also reminded us that this is a historical occasion for both the club and the city."
Gigli is one of the players that will take to the floor at the legendary PalaDozza arena this weekend that has previously tasted the big stage.
"I have to say that in these situations the atmosphere, the tension, everything around it it very different to a league game or a play-off series.
"There are some players that can feel this pressure very heavily and others that take it on board.
"We need to be good in managing every single detail."
This even includes the Molten GL7 balls that are used in every FIBA Europe event and the well-versed EuroBasket tournaments and qualifying campaigns the Italian veteran knows only too well.
"They (the GL7s) are different to those we use normally in the league, they need to be handled with a different sensitivity.
"Fortunately we have been training with some of these balls this week, because even details like this can make the difference and help you take the win."
The game between Reggio Emilia and Gaziantep tips off at 20:30 on Friday, while in the first semi-final clash, at 18:00, Triumph Lyubertsy are taking on Szolnoki Olaj.