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Gentile looking to improve his NBA-bound resume by staying in Milano

Back in Milan after being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2014 NBA Draft, Alessandro Gentile has a point to prove this season.

The 21-year-old, Maddaloni-born guard/forward has lofty expectations, but as he guided Italy to top spot in Group G of the Eurobasket Qualifiers and a place in next year’s Euros with an average of 16 points a game, Gentile has decided to perfect his trade and prepare for the future, rather than waste away on an NBA bench and hide away in the D-League.

The talented guard has chosen to stay put and prove that EA7 Milano’s surprise run to the Euroleague quarter-finals last season was no fluke. The leading scorer of the previous campaign Keith Langford, as well as Curtis Jerrells have moved on to Unics Kazan but accompanying Gentile is another strong batch of strong players, who can step up and hit the big shots, be productive on both ends of the floor and make an impact.

New arrivals, such as former Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers guard Marshon Brooks, ex-Cantu point Joe Ragland, former Maccabi forward Shawn James and veteran Lithuanian scorer Linas Kleiza are part of looks to be an even stronger Milano unit to the one that nearly made an unexpected visit to the Euroleague Final Four in their own backyard last year.

“They’re all great players,” Gentile said. “They have great experience, all of them so for sure they can help us and [we can] do the job as the players that were here last year to make things easier for them and try to help them and to figure out the new system. Also the new coaches and to get them in the team spirit as soon as possible.”

For Gentile himself, he wants another shot at the Euroleague Final Four after an injury to his leg during a domestic game against Cantu that forced him to miss the Euroleague quarter-final series against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and miss six weeks of action. He returned to help Milano win the Italian league crown in June, but his dreams of Euroleague glory were snuffed out with that injury.

“Last year was for sure a tough season,” he admitted. “We had a great run in the Top 16, and made it to the playoffs and [I was] unlucky to get injured during the best moment of the season. But I’m very excited to start over with a new season, and with big expectations.”

Gentile continued: “It will be more difficult, because everybody is expecting a lot now and so we have to be aware of this, to know when we go to play and we have to be ready.”

It certainly won’t easy for Gentile and his EA7 Milano side. The road to Madrid starts with tough trips to Fenerbahce, Barcelona and Panathinaikos along with tricky ties against Bayern Munich and Polish newcomers PGE Turow. But for Gentile to convince NBA scouts that he does indeed belong in the NBA in years to come, he needs to play and perform well against these teams on a consistent basis.

“In the Euroleague, every game is tough and important,” Gentile says. “We will try to win every game at home to try to start the season well. We know it won’t be easy, we have a lot of road games at the beginning of the season so we have to be prepared and ready.”

Gentile, and a revamped Milano side travel to Istanbul on October 17 to start their journey, one that they want to end in the Spanish capital in May 2015.

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