Mexico will look to frustrate the home crowd in Turin when they collide with Italy in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinals on Friday.
Mexico Expecting Tough Game in Front of a Partisan Crowd
Time and time again, home-court advantage has helped teams win in international competitions. This will be the biggest challenge for Mexico, as they will be playing in front of a loud Italian crowd on Friday.
Mexico struggled to advance to the semis and are hoping they will peak at the right time. The Mexicans almost took an upset against former Asian champions Iran before escaping with a 75-70 win. However, against Greece, their poor performance made them absorb a humbling 86-70 loss.
Against the pumped up Italian side, Mexico will once again lean on Francisco Cruz, who averaged 18.5 points in their first two games. Jorge Gutierrez chipped in 12.5 points, while Hector Hernandez racked up 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Mexicans in their first two outings.
Italy Poised To Book Ticket To Rio Olympics 2016
Meanwhile, Italy will look to pick up from where they left off in their first two assignments. The host country pummeled Tunisia, 68-41, in their tournament opener before earning a hard-earned 67-60 victory over the Bojan Bogdanovic-led Croatia on Tuesday.
Marco Belinelli spearheaded Italy’s offensive attack with 15.0 points per game, while fellow NBA veteran Andrea Bargnani added 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Sharp-shooting forward Danilo Gallinari averaged just 9.0 points on 38.9 percent shooting but tallied 8.5 boards for Italy.
Who Will Move A Step Closer To Olympic Dream?
Both teams came in with one goal in mind — to earn the lone ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Mexico will give Italy a run for their money, but the host country are expected to escape with a close win — from one to five-point victory. Mexico’s Cruz even admitted that the home-court advantage will be a big factor.
“It’s going to be a hard game, really tough, home-court advantage is really big,” Cruz told FIBA. “Italy has a really good team. We have to be just ready to play with a lot of energy.”
The Italy vs. Mexico match will start at 3 p.m. ET and will be available through online live stream on Live Basketball TV. 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament highlights are available on FIBA’s YouTube page, while box scores will be posted on this link.
About Paul John
Paul John is a big sports fan and has been writing NBA, MLB, NFL, MMA, WWE boxing and soccer news for years. He is also in the know about the latest gadgets and video games, and covers entertainment occasionally. Follow him now to get biggest updates in the world of sports, tech and entertainment.