San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina will remain as the national team coach for Italy at next summer’s Eurobasket, as confirmed by the Italian Basketball Federation.
Messina, who took over the national team post in November from Simone Pianigiani, failed to lead Italy to the Rio 2016 Olympics by losing out to Croatia at one of the three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
The 57-year-old’s tenure as Italy coach looked to be over following the Olympic Qualifiers as Messina wasn’t sure if San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford would allow him to continue due to his NBA commitments but the four-time EuroLeague winner will remain at the helm.
“It’s a logical continuation,” Messina said in a statement. “I want to thank president Petrucci and the federation for their trust and also coach Popovich and general manager RC Buford of the Spurs for my availability. We will do the best job possible for the upcoming European Championship.”
Indeed having Messina on board is great news for the national team of Italy, who have been uncertain about their future leading up to Eurobasket next year. He is considered one of the best European coaches of all time, a two-time EuroLeague Coach of the Year, he has an overall record of 279–98 (.740) in the competition.
He also led Italy to a Eurobasket silver medal back in 1997 during his first stint in charge.