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Italy’s legend Luigi Datome retires

Italy veteran forward Luigi Datome's final game with the Azzurri may seem uneventful as Filipino basketball fans came to watch and cheer for NBA star Luka Doncic who put on a show one last time in Slovenia's final game in Manila.

Luigi Datome AFP PHOTO

But the 35-year-old Italian wouldn't mind the low-key ending to an illustrious career with the Azzurri, knowing he closed a chapter of his basketball career with his teammates.

“Today was very emotional of course, I hope this is why I played so bad. Of course, we were trying to finish with a win, also it's an important game. My teammates played hard and tried everything to try to make me finish with a win,” the 6-foot-8 Datome said, moments after Italy fell to Doncic and Slovenia, 89-85 in the battle for seventh place on Saturday evening, September 9.

Datome played just 10 minutes and 24 seconds, contributing one point for Italy, which ended its 2023 FIBA World Cup campaign in eighth place.

“As the captain, I'm proud of this team for what we did. I think we showed that we could compete at the highest level,” Datome said, noting how his team was able to beat World Cup finalist Serbia and Italy in the second round, while losing a close one against Dominican Republic led by Karl-Anthony Towns in the group stage.

“We've beaten good teams. So I'm proud of my teammates and I'm grateful also for my teammates because they treated me so good this summer. They made me feel special. It was really one of the best summers of my life just because these guys are so special to me,” added the bearded Italian, who also played for the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics from 2013 to 2015.

“All the stuff from the national team and the game. I cannot say thank you to everybody because there are so many people to say thank you. The opponents today, referees, who make the most difficult job in the world, and we only remember the referees when they do something bad. It's a very tough job and without them, we cannot play so thanks to the referee, media, fans, teammates, for my team, coaches. I feel grateful, happy, so thank you again to all of you.”

Datome believes now is the time to call it quits, stressing he had no regrets with his decision.

“One of the best things is I have no regrets. It was my choice, nobody forced me to do this choice,” he said. “I was healthy enough to keep on playing. I had an offer [for] Milan to keep on playing but I think it's a good moment to step out. That's why also I feel grateful because not many players could decide when to go out or to do it as this age with the national team, being captain, it's an honor.”

Datome started his national career during the European Under-18 championship where Italy copped the bronze and from there, moved on to see action for the senior national team.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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