Orlando’s Paolo Banchero has committed to Team USA in the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup but the Italian Basketball Federation were very much blindsided by the decision.
The 20-year-old has an Italian father and an Italian passport, so he could have chosen to play for either Italy or USA on the world stage.
The reigning Rookie of the Year expressed his desire to play for Italy last year but that has clearly changed.
Italian Basketball Federation president Gianni Petrucci is very disappointed in the decision and claims Banchero didn’t have the courtesy to let the organization know himself.
“It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to communicate that to us. Instead, we learned about his decision from the newspapers,” Petrucci told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “In the past few days, he was in Milan, and despite our agreements with his agency, he avoided the meeting with 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 great commercial strategy for him. Now we need to turn this disappointment into positive energy, I’m sure our coach will be able to do it.”
Last autumn, Banchero seemed excited to play for Italy and was even texting his future teammates about it.
“I would love to play with him,” NBA and current EuroLeague player Nico Mannion told BasketNews in October. ‘He seems to be a good person. He was texting me and told me he was excited to come. He wants to come, it’s just about finding the right time.”
But just days ago, NBA insider Shams Charania reported that the youngster committed to play for Team USA.
Orlando’s Paolo Banchero – the NBA’s Rookie of the Year – has committed to play for Team USA’s national team at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines this summer, sources tell me and @joevardon.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 24, 2023
This year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10.