Not really a Lithuanian topic this time, but the U18 European Championship is now under way in Vilnius and I’m happy to be a part of it.
OK, now the thing with Alessandro Gentile is that right from the beginning he looked suspiciously lazy. He seemed to walk around a lot, not much running involved in his game. However, he looked to be getting things done, well, at least offensively. He is a really a Top three U18 talent in this tournament no matter how you look at it, but there were some doubts already at the very beginning. To my untrained eye Alessandro Gentile looked to be a lone soldier on the Italian team, which, to say the least, doesn’t shine with talent. He shot the ball extremely well from the three-point line and got to the rim fairly easily using his big body (big for U18, won’t help much in men basketball) and strength (also good for U18, but not for senior).
And here I am watching Italy playing against Greece in the first game of the second group stage. Wasn’t really a good game for Gentile – he struggled a lot offensively, missed a lot of shots and was out of the game both performance-wise and also mentally, he was getting angry at the refs (resulted in a technical foul), pumping his fists after missed shots (his own) instead of getting back on defense. When Italy switched to zone, he first was put high and wide – that’s where his laziness shined through – with no one on his side, he just stood there instead of rotating to help defensively. That repeated for three or so times and then Gentile was benched for a pretty long time, exactly when Italy mounted a run to get back into the game. The amount of high-fives on the team sky rocketed (I’m talking with great seriousness), everyone was playing their heart out. Meanwhile, Gentile sat with his head down, hands on his face. When he eventually came back on court, he was now playing low and center in a 2-3 zone (very small roster) and did fairly well due to his size.
After the game, when the whole team of Italy gathered in the center of the court, Gentile was nowhere to be seen. Or actually, he was, he had walked straight past the media sector (for the second game in a row) leaving his team-mates… That’s kind of minor issues, but the point I want to make is that Gentile has the problem with attitude.
I sat just besides Germany’s coach Kay Blümel and had a fairly long conversation first of all about the German players (Neumann, Heckmann), which is to be shared some time later.
But basically I’ll try to sum up what he told me. Let’s start of by saying the inevitable – coach Blümel told straight away that in a men’s team he would have his rear-end kicked for those defensive rotations alone, nevermind his attitude and approach to playing on the court.
Coach Blümel went on to make a bold statement that Gentile is playing for one team only and the team is Gentile. He doesn’t look interested in the team whatsoever, but we all have to agree that Italy’s not the strongest of teams as well. So that’s kind of explainable.
I asked the coach who he like more – Alessandro Gentile or Linos Chrysikopoulos. And the answer was quite unexpected to me, not really that he chose Linos as he played for the team and with the team and looked to be working really hard. The surprise was that coach Blümel went on to say that he wouldn’t want Gentile on his team even if he was the best player in the world.
That’s really all that I can recall about Gentile. Didn’t record or anything. I learned some interesting stuff about Heckmann and Neumann, which was actually the reason I wanted to talk with coach Blümel.
Hope you enjoyed it. And don’t forget Gentile’s still a great talent, but has issues like everyone else. Bad that they aren’t minor and hard to overcome, but you could live with it, at least I think so.