Just like other European countries, Italy also have their representative basketball players in the NBA.
Although a lot of people expect that Italy do not exel in basketball because they are more into football, they’re wrong. The sport basketball is also popular in Italy, they even have their own representative in different international tournaments. Italians represent their country not just in European international tournaments, but also in the United States of America, specifically in the NBA.
Marco Belinelli of New Orleans Hornets
Marco Stefano Belinelli was born on March 25, 1986 in San Giovanni in Persiceto. He is one of the Italian basketballs player in the NBA. He is 6’5’’ tall and plays the position of a shooting guard.
Before his NBA career started, Belinelli played for Italy’s Virtus Bologna and Fortitudo Bologna in the Italian Lega A and the Euroleague. In 2005, where he was only 19 years old, he led his team, Fortitiudo Bologna, to win the Italian League in the series against Olimpia Milano, 3-1.
He was also a member of the Italian national basketball team, and together with his teammates, competed at the 2006 FIBA World Championships. During that particular game, Marco Belinelli scored a total of 25 points against the United States national team in the preliminary round play. His NBA career started when he was picked by the Golden State Warriors as the 18th pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Drafts.
His performance is tied for second for the highest scoring game ever in Vegas Summer League history, behind Keith’s Bogans’s 38 scored in 2004. He was eventually traded to the Toronto Raptors for Devean George on July 30, 2009. After playing just one season with the Toronto Raptors, he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets for Julian Wright on August 11, 2010.
Toronto Raptor’s Andrea Baragani
Andrea Bargani, also known as “ll Mago” which means The Magician in English, was born on October 25, 1985 in Rome, Italy. Just like Marco Belinilli, Andrea Bargani is also one of the Italian basketball players in the NBA.
In 2002, Bargani started his professional basketball career, where he played for the Stella Azzurra Roma in Italy’s Serie B2 division, then he signed with the Lega A side Benetton Treviso for the 2003-2004 season and lasted with the team until 2006. He led the Benetton Treviso to Italy’s Lega A 2006 Championship. In the Euroleague, he posted a season-high of 20 points against Panathinaikos and Strasbourg.
He was subsequently named the Euroleague Rising Star, the award given to each Euroleague season’s best Euroleague player aged 22 and below, for the season 2005 to 2006. Andrea Bargani entered the NBA when he was picked by the Toronto Raptors as the first pick overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.
He became the fourth ever Italian-born player to play in the NBA. In January 2007, he was selected as the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month. He was credited as helping the Toronto Raptors win their first ever Division title. Up until now, the Italian basketball player in the NBA still exels and is still with the team.