Alessandro Gentile was featured on www.euroleague.net yesterday. He was interviewed between the first and second round of the European Championships in Slovenia where he’s one of the competition rising stars. This is what he said…
In his senior national-team debut, rising star Alessandro Gentile has played a big role in Italy having surprised many observers by winning Group D with a 5-0 record as the only undefeated team left at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia. The 20-year-old EA7 Emporio Armani Milan guard averaged 14.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists during the first round, which Italy played in Koper. He scored a high of 20 points against Turkey and saw his playing time increase from 12 minutes in Italy’s opening win, against Russia, to 35 in the last one, against Sweden. Euroleague.net caught up with Gentile in Slovenia to talk about Italy’s great run so far, his team’s ambitions for EuroBasket and, among other things, his recently being named captain of Milan, just as his father, former Euroleague champion Nando Gentile, once was. “Now I am focused on this experience, but of course it’s a big honor to be captain at Milan,” Gentile said.
With a number of big stars missing from this team, what does going undefeated so far at EuroBasket say about Italian basketball?
“This is a clear message about Italian basketball. Too often in Italy we prefer to take players from outside of Italy and let them play instead of letting Italian players play. So, this is a big message to the movement in Italian basketball.”
What are the ambitions of the team and what would a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014 mean?
“We really just want to think game by game. This is our goal. We will think about the second round without getting too excited and not thinking too much further. But of course the World Cup would be a really great goal to achieve. We will just keep working to achieve it.”
You play with a lot of swagger and confidence. How much fun do you have playing basketball?
“I feel confident when I play basketball. It’s the game I love. I’m just trying to have fun out there and give 100 percent. I always feel happy when I step on the court. Every game will be like this.”
When Italian coach Simone Pianigiani invited you to camp, what were you thinking?
“We were missing a lot of players. My first goal was to just make the team. We have a lot of players who are not here. Other players have a chance to play and they are proving that they can play.”
What did you think when you made the team?
“I was really happy. It is just a really big honor to play for my national team.”
You helped Italy to the silver medal at the 2011 U20 European Championship. How much do you look back and think about that success?
“Winning something is special. When you win with the national team, it’s even more special of course. It’s a dream, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep on going with great hustle and be humble.”
You have been named club captain at Milan, as your father, Nando Gentile, once was. What does it mean to you?
“I will think about that when we finish this experience. Now I am focused on this experience. But of course it’s a big honor to be captain at Milan. But I will think about that more when this finishes.”
If EuroBasket is a big step for you, the coming Euroleage season ends with the Final Four in Milan. How much of a dream is it for you to play a Final Four someday?
“That’s a dream also, but dreaming is beautiful. You only live one time and you live about dreams. I love dreaming and – who knows? – maybe we could play there.”