Simone Fontecchio won’t be prominent on many NBA game plans but he’s certainly a major focus for Team USA coach Steve Kerr and his staff in preparations for the quarterfinal match with Italy on Tuesday.
The second-year Jazz forward leads Italy in the tournament at 18.4 points per game. He’s also Italy’s second-leading rebounder at 6.6 per game. He had a 30-point outing against Serbia.
“I’m really happy when I can help my team. I can help my team in a lot of ways – even if I score 0 points,” he said in a story posted on FIBA’s website. “I can play defense, I can get rebounds, I can pass the ball. This team doesn’t need me to score 30, but when I do it of course I am really happy. It’s just the cherry on top. It’s certainly one of the best nights I’ve had in the national team.”
We have more from the World Cup:
- Team USA center Jaren Jackson Jr. has gotten into early foul trouble in three of the team’s five games. He knows he must be smarter, given the club’s lack of options at the position, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer. “Different rules, different hand positions at different times they call,” Jackson said. “You can be more physical, but you can’t at certain times. You just gotta be super, super careful. You have to understand you’re very, very valuable.”
- The best non-NBA player in the tournament is Latvia’s point man, Arturs Zagars, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. The 23-year-old has been set back during his career by multiple injuries. He has displayed superior distribution skills in the World Cup and has been comfortable shooting FIBA threes off the dribble. He played in the Lithuanian domestic league last season. Spain point guard Juan Nunez is the top draft prospect in the tournament, Hollinger adds.
- Canada’s win over Spain on Sunday was validation for a national team that has often come up short on the world stage, Michael Grange of Sportsnet notes. Canada’s win clinched an Olympic berth and set up a quarterfinal match against Luka Doncic and Slovenia on Wednesday.