Veteran Italy point guard Marco Mordente believes he and his teammates can make a real impact on the 24-team field at next year's EuroBasket in Lithuania.
The Azzurri had a strong summer but finished third in Group A behind Montenegro and Israel - two sides the Italians beat.
|Mordente hopes to see Danilo Gallinari in the Italy shirt in Lithuania|
Italy gained entry to the Final Round with many other teams when the tournament was expanded.
"We worked all summer and got really close to the qualification, but we couldn't because of a couple of games, especially at the beginning when we lost in a stupid way," Mordente said.
"We're happy because we feel we deserved it (to play in Lithuania)."
Italy recovered from a 1-3 start to finish 5-3.
"The new coach (Simone Pianigiani) did a great job," said Mordente, who played in all eight games and averaged almost 18 minutes per appearance.
"At the beginning, we lost close games but then we found some confidence and played really well."
Italy will be in confident mood.
"I think we are in a good way and I hope that next year in Lithuania, we will play a great European Championship," said Mordente.
"I think the most important thing is to work all together from the beginning, and we hope that all of the players will be ready.
"We also hope that Bargnani, (Danilo) Gallinari and Belinelli will be with us.
"If we work in the same way as we did, we'll have a great chance to do something big."