EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|After losing their Qualification Round opening game in Latvia, Italy's Raffaella Masciadri and coach Ricchini do not want the team to take their first home game, Wednesday against Luxembourg, lightly |
Italy coach Roberto Ricchini is not taking anything for granted when his team host Group E minnows Luxembourg in what is destined to be an exciting night for the city of Frosinone.
It will host a EuroBasket Women qualifying game for the very first time and it could prove a perfect moment for a new-look Italian side to get off the mark and bounce back from their disappointing final-quarter collapse last week in Latvia.
But, while Italy will be red-hot favourites to cruise to victory, Ricchini is determined to ensure his team are focused and give their opponent respect.
"Although Luxembourg is considered the ‘Cinderella' of the group, we should not underestimate them, but respect them," the coach said.
"Then we think about our philosophy, and think only of what we want for ourselves when trying to achieve our dream. "
"We draw from those good things we did in Latvia, where we played to par for over three quarters of the game.
"For the girls, this match with Latvia was an important growth experience that will serve us well in the future," continued Ricchini.
"These qualifications are a challenge first for ourselves and then against our opponents.
"EuroBasket Women qualification represents a great dream and stimulus to try and achieve it but it will not be easy because we are a new team.
"We are very young and with little international experience. There are limits."
Also taking on a significant amount of responsibility in trying to guide a young and inexperienced Italian team to France next summer, is veteran captain Raffaella Masciadri.
She has indicated that rolling up their sleeves and working hard for each other will be the key to Italy achieving its aim and booking one of those precious top-two available spots.
"This is a cohesive group that wants to work, sweating on the court and proving their quality," explained Masciadri.
"The first game in Latvia did not go as we wanted it to, but now we are already thinking about Luxembourg.
"We must try to be careful in defence and concrete under the basket. This is a team with talented but young girls."
She advised: "What I can say to them is not resting on their laurels when things go well, but continue to work always in the same way.
"Hard work is the only way to grow and improve."