|03 July 2013|
|Francesca Dotto went from being a verge player on the Italian senior team to a key member by the end of her stay in France|
She may only be 20, but when Francesca Dotto reaches the other end of her career and hangs up her playing shoes, her EuroBasket Women debut with Italy will remain one of her most vivid memories
Heading into the tournament, few gave her a chance of making the final cut on the Italian roster claims FIBA Europe women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen.
The standard reply from those with close links to Italian basketball was that after just one year of playing top flight pro-basketball, she remained an exciting prospect, but it was too soon.
How wrong they were.
Typical of the bold new world of the senior team which has been initiated by head coach Roberto Ricchini, he gave the playmaker a window to impress during preparation for EuroBasket Women 2013 and she took the opportunity with both hands.
Dotto was not only handed a passport to France, she was thrown into the heart of the team and became an essential figure in seeing Italy go to the brink of a semi-final spot and landing a FIBA World Championship berth for next summer.
Whilst they ultimately failed on both counts, simply emerging from their First Round ‘Group of Death' was a major accomplishment - let alone progressing from the Second Round to make it to the quarter-finals in Orchies.
"It was a great experience for me and for our team," recalls Dotto with great pride.
"I was very excited because this was my first time in a senior championship.
"I also feel enriched, because it was great to play against the best European players and in the highest level of competition.
"I was able to watch ‘live' so many great players and teams."
She continued, "I now feel very pushed to improve my game and my basketball."
The truth is, Dotto did not watch much at all. Far from it.
For much of the tournament, she was playing her impressive brand of intense defence, whilst also showing great maturity and composure to execute some big-time plays which elevated her status and profile as one of the best young guards in Europe.
"My best moment was my triple shot in the last quarter against Montenegro," smiled the guard.
|Like Dotto, Alessandra Formica will make the quick turnaround from France to get to Samsun|
"With that basket, we were sure to win and obtain qualification to the final phase in Orchies."
Having progressed to the last stage, Italy had a big chance to make it to the last four, but a late collapse cost them dearly.
"The worst moment was surely the last two minutes against Serbia," agonised Dotto.
"We were quite near to a historical result."
Dotto was joined on the senior roster in France by fellow youngster Alessandra Formica.
The center didn't play quite as much as her fellow rising star, but did enough to justify the notion that the pair will potentially remain a cornerstone of the senior national team for the next decade and beyond.
"We have shared most experiences in various European Youth Championships, also playing at the FIBA Under 19 World Championship two years ago as well," said Dotto.
She added, "I am very happy to have now played my first EuroBasket Women tournament together with her."
Now the pair must re-focus, re-energise and try to exert their considerable influence and quality in Samsun, as they seek to make a farewell statement of success to their respective youth careers.
At the U20 European Championship in Debrecen last summer, there were mixed fortunes for Dotto.
She mused, "Overall, it wasn't really a great period and it was a difficult competition off the court. However, I do have happy memories because my sister [Caterina] and I did fairly well.
"For sure, I hope to do better than last year in Debrecen.
"We have a tough first round since these teams are all really good.
"But, we will give our best and we have high hopes of doing well."
Dotto will lead Italy in Group C and her team will face France, Hungary and Russia, looking to improve on their 13th placed finish last year.