Italy with Gallinari, Datome in summer

15 April 2015
8. Danilo Gallinari (Italy)
Italy's Danilo Gallinari has been in stellar form in the NBA lately

There are positive vibes coming out of the NBA for Italy's national team. Very positive.

Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari looks healthy. He dropped a career-high 47 points on the Dallas Mavericks on 10 April, just 17 days after pouring in 40 in a game against Orlando.

Luigi Datome, meanwhile, is about to experience the NBA playoffs for the first time with the Boston Celtics.

Each has had long, hard seasons. 

That is especially true for Gallinari, who returned to action after missing 18 months following ACL surgery. He had to go under the knife again in December to repair a torn meniscus and missed a month but has been playing ever since.

"I can't wait to play for the national team," he said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It's an experienced group with many leaders."

Datome is also enthusiastic about playing for the Azzurri. That was evident with a tweet about wanting to play with Gallinari after his 47-point explosion against the Mavs.

Gallinari has had some huge games with the Nuggets of late but by his own admission, he is still a work in progress after missing so much time with his knee problems.

"Yes, there are situations in which I still struggle, in which my body reacts in a different way than it did before," he said.

"I have had to get used to reading the game in a different way, to interpreting situations in a different way.

"These are mechanisms that come back over time."

Datome and Gallinari are sure to have important roles for Italy, who will try to reach the Final and qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2004. The two players were 16 years old when Italy claimed the silver medal at the Athens Games.

At the 24-team EuroBasket, Italy will compete in Group B in Berlin against Turkey, Spain, Iceland, Serbia and hosts Germany.

"The first goal will be to pass the first round," Datome said to

"So the first goal is to be healthy, be in shape for the first day of training camp, work out well in order to be in the best possible shape for the start of the competition."

13. Luigi Datome (Italy)
Italy will count on Luigi Datome's shooting at EuroBasket 2015

As for the opponents in the Group Phase, Spain are No. 2 in the FIBA bwin World Ranking, Serbia No. 7 and Turkey No. 8. Even Germany at No. 18 are higher than Italy, who are No. 36 after dropping 15 places in latest rankings. Only Iceland do not have enough points yet to have a ranking.

"The group is very tough and we are going to face very tough teams," Datome said.

"We are going to need to be ready for the first day of training camp to practice hard.

"We can't lose any time to find a good chemistry."

If Gallo and Gigi are all in when it comes to Italy, the same can't be said for San Antonio Spurs forward Marco Belinelli. The sharpshooter will be a free agent after the season and is unable to commit to the national team, yet.

Italy's Basketball Federation, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday the warm-up schedule for the EuroBasket. The players will gather in Folgaria on 21 July and they will face the Netherlands (30 July), Austria (31 July) and Germany (1 August) in the Trentino Cup.

After resuming training in Trieste on 4 August, the plan is for Italy to leave for Georgia and take part in the Tbilisi Tournament. Their opponents will be Israel (14 August), Latvia (15 August) and Georgia (16 August). Italy's basketball federation said it is awaiting confirmation from Georgia on this calendar.

Next will be a return to Koper, Slovenia, which should bring back happy memories. Koper, a 22-kilometer drive from Trieste, is where Italy went unbeaten at EuroBasket 2013 in the opening round. Once there, they will play against Georgia (28 August), American college team Michigan State (29 August) and Russia (30 August).

Italy's first game at the EuroBasket will be against Turkey on 5 September. 

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