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“United until the end, we have learned this”: coach Alex Finelli talks about the final between Real Sebastiani and Moncada Energy Agrigento

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1. Coach Alex Finelli: as you are the protagonist of Italian basketball, with experiences also abroad, do you feel that in Italy it is perceived as a “minor” sport? Does sport for Italians end when the football championship ends? Basketball is definitely a sport for young people, with a growing following especially this summer given the short-term start of the national team’s activities. Basketball is the number 2 team sport after football, but in Italy it actually lives like that of Rieti, which have a great tradition with respect to basketball. A recent example is the Milan – Bologna final, which had a very important and fierce following. 2. Tonight the match of matches in Agrigento: did you expect to reach Race 5? The wish was to win one of the first two games, but being two balanced teams and both at a very high level, it is understandable to have reached game 5 of the playoffs. 3. In this championship the city of Rieti found itself in the “singular” situation of having two teams in the same championship in B1. What was it like living this situation? A fun challenge or difficult to manage? He gave a special flavor to the town tradition. I come from Bologna where the derby is something important, unique that has existed for more than 50 years. So I felt pleasure, interest and adrenaline in being able to experience the first derby in Rieti history. As mentioned the city has a long tradition in basketball, but there had been two teams in the same basketball league. It was truly a great experience. 4. Another difference in this championship was certainly the return of support and the opening to the public in the arenas. How was it to feel the presence of the public again? It took a lot of patience for everyone. Before we were “alone” and it wasn’t easy without an audience. The slow return of the fans also took time, to allow families and fans to get used to being once again in sporting situations carried out in closed spaces. So, the passion and the cheering were something progressive. All the teams have suffered in recent years, but fortunately the sold out of many Italian sports halls are proof that there are positive implications, together with trust and hopefully a return to normal. 5. Returning to the reality of a basketball team in the Serie B. What is the strategy for choosing the staff? How do you build a genuine team? How important are young people and the nursery? The first key for me is the quality of people on a moral and value level. Because in team sport the ability to be resilient and positive in times of difficulty is fundamental. Therefore, personal qualities are the priority and must obviously be combined with technical qualities. The second key is the definition of roles: building a staff is like building a tailored suit, made to measure: roles, spaces and responsibilities must be well defined to create quality and definition. Finally, young people are an important strategic element, being able to give growth to the team in a short time. The quick and targeted evolution of a young athlete, during a championship, makes the team much more competitive. 6. We come to the infamous question: what is expected of the final tonight, besides the mere result? What are the lessons to take home? The first four starts, of this playoff final, taught us to combine great clarity throughout the race, to face all possible situations. Combining the ability to stay united and compact until the end. We know that by remaining positive in the inevitable moments of difficulty that the race makes you experience, we can aim for our goal with confidence. 7. What is the future you hope for basketball in Italy? I look forward to an important result from the Italian national team. There are many Italian players, from different generations who have played, play and will play in the NBA as well as in the Euro League. We have important players, from different generations, who are carrying the name of our country very high. This is why I dream of important results for our national team.

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