The Italian Basketball Federation is incredulous after hearing that Paolo Banchero will be playing for Team USA this summer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
While speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the president of the Italian Basketball Federation, Gianni Petrucci, explained that Banchero “had misled us.” The reigning Rookie of the Year gave them the impression that he would play for them, based on previous language from him and a recent visit to Milan.
Additionally, Petrucci highlighted how his team found out about Banchero’s commitment to Team USA through the news. Despite numerous attempts to contact him, the 20-year-old dodged meetings with him.
“It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to let us know,” Petrucci said. “Instead, we found out about his decision from the newspapers. In the last days he was in Milan and, despite our agreements with his agency, he avoided the meeting with the coach Pozzecco.
Betrayal, especially in basketball, is a strong word. Situations like this happen, and personally, I’m used to it. But he fooled us, we were planning a big business strategy for him. Now we have to turn this disappointment into positive energy, I’m sure our coach will be able to do it.”
Last fall, Banchero strongly hinted that he wanted to represent Italy in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. He spoke of giving all his energy to the team.
“The way of playing is a bit different, but I will give everything, all my energy and I will impact the team in the best way that I can,” Banchero said.
In his rookie year, Banchero averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.