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Paolo Banchero Joins Team USA

And tells Italy he’s changed his mind

Orlando Magic Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero
LAKELAND, FL - APRIL 26: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic talks to the media after receiving the 2022-23 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award on April 26, 2023 at the AdventHealth Training Center in Orlando, Florida. 
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

You may remember that Paolo Banchero was for a time teetering about whether to play internationally for the US or for Italy, where he’d be eligible since his father is of Italian descent. Banchero has this endearing habit of saying things fairly bluntly and he said this about his recently granted Italian citizenship:

“My dad’s side is Italian. His great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Italy and then moved all the way to Seattle and built a family there.

So, my father’s grandfather and his father they all from Seattle but with Italian roots. You know, growing up, I was always wondering why my name was Paolo Banchero, it was so different from all the other kids.

My father’s name is Mario, my uncle’s name is Angelo, my other uncle’s name is Armando, and my brother’s name is Giulio, so when I got a little bit older, my father explained to me about our roots in Italy. You know, my father has never been to Italy, so we’re kinda new to it.”

Well, viva Italia!

As it turns out, Banchero considered playing for Italy because he felt that Team USA never was all that interested in having him. He has said that a major factor for him playing for Italy - he had planned on it previously - was that the fans had shown him a lot of love.

Well it took awhile, but the US side eventually began to let Banchero know that he was wanted and when that happened, he chose to play for the home team and the dominant presence in world basketball and he’ll start with FIBA competition next month.

Let’s hope it’s a long and fruitful partnership.