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In October 2022 Paolo Banchero was on record saying “I can’t wait to go to Italy” and play for the national team. He’s since received an invite to represent Team USA during the upcoming FIBA World Cup, and has officially thrown the idea of representing Italy on the hardwood into the trash.
Banchero’s father is of Italian descent and the Orlando Magic star actually picked up an Italian passport years ago. But when the Red, White, and Blue came calling he simply could not pass up on the opportunity.
Gianni Petrucci, the president of the Italian Basketball Federation, pulled out the B-word to describe Banchero’s decision.
Not only does he feel betrayed, he was rather upset about having to learn that Banchero would be rolling with Team USA thru the press.
“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 said, according to Basketnews. “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.”
Banchero quite literally ducked the Italian national team while in Milan. Talk about cold-blooded stuff.
The former Duke star was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. While the former first-overall pick is coming off of a very strong rookie campaign, he has his work cut out for him to find a considerable role on Team USA.