|Amedeo Della Valle going for the game-winning shot for Italy against Spain|
Italy guard Amedeo Della Valle is one of the players that has endeared himself to fans at the Sportland U20 European Championship in Tallinn and his appeal might have to do with his often unpredictable style of play.
As fibaeurope.com's Half-Court Press has discovered though, Della Valle has a unique flair of combining seemingly opposing ingredients into an unpredictable mix off the court as well, like Lebron James with Juan Carlos Navarro and pasta with steak!
How did you take your first steps into the basketball world?
My dad played during 12 years in the Italian first league and also for the national team a little bit and that is definitely how I came to like basketball. He used to take me to games and used to tell me 'I know this guy', and I didn't believe him but in the end of course he really knew everyone.
And what made you want to play yourself?
At first, just by watching games over games you start understanding how important it is and then you start making sacrifices for the game and you start loving it even more, until you can't live without it any more. I was 14 years old when I moved two hours away from my house to play at a club, together with some other guys, so it was a really big decision but I knew already what I wanted to do with my life.
Who is your favourite player?
I love Lebron James! I think he is the best player in the world right now, he is not just scoring or rebounding, he is also capable of creating for his team-mates and makes them better. Juan Carlos Navarro is also amazing, although he is not physically imposing he is so smart and understands the game so well that he can always find a shot, must be so easy playing with him.
You will soon be a senior player, do you envisage yourself playing with Italy in a major tournament?
I would love to be with the senior national team one day, but right now I am 100% focused on trying to get a medal here with the U20 team and what comes later we'll see.
So you came to Estonia with your sights set on the podium?
Yes, that's my goal. It was in my mind before starting the tournament obviously, because I had missed last year's U20 championship and then I didn't play that much this year with Ohio State so I was highly motivated. I came here with that mindset, came here to win.
Which is the one city everyone should visit?
My hometown, Alba, in Cuneo province, is my favourite city in the world. It is very small, just 30,000 people but my mum and dad are there, the most important people to me.
What happens if the coach takes your advice, visits Alba and comes to your house for dinner?
I would probably cook him some pasta, because I am a terrible chef and I need to try something easy. But hey, if someone else is cooking, I would have a big stake!