After four years away from the national team, Francesca Zara will return to the Italy squad as the Azzure prepare for the Additional Qualifiers.
The 35-year-old last played for Italy at Eurobasket in 2007, an event which the Italians hosted. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get past the second-round.
Zara is hoping to lead her team to Poland in 24 days. But first, the Italians must go through a tough Additional Qualifying round where they will host Group B, where they will square off against Germany, Serbia, Belgium and Romania.
“I’m happy to be back and wearing the blue shirt,” Zara said. “Giampiero Ticchi (Italy coach) called me and within minutes we agreed.”
Veteran Zara will provide valuable experience at the point-guard position due to the unavailability of Chiara Pastore, who suffered a broken nose whilst playing for her club side Beretta-Famila Schio. Pastore has recovered from surgery, but is far from 100% to compete.
Zara admits that normally in the off-season, rest is her number one option, but she is ready to go this summer as Italy pursue a Eurobasket place.
“In recent years, I had preferred to stay out and rest during the summer, but this year I arrived at the end of the season healthier and fresher,” Zara stated.
This comes as welcome news for the Azzure, with the sudden departure of Slovenian-born center Dubraavka Dacic from their training camp, who admits to not being fully ready to play for Italy.
“In the past I’ve had some problems adapting to the national team,” Dacic said. “Now things have improved, but I still have to grow and make this change definite.”
Italy will host the Additional Qualifiers Group B in the beginning of June.