Andrea Bargnani has decided to skip his expected involvement with the Italian National Team this summer as he continues to recover from the calf injury that limited him to just 31 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season.
News? Not news? Who really knows, but we’re “RaptorBlog,” Andrea Bargnani is a Raptor and it’s June 4 for crying out loud, so let’s talk some Bargnani and Italian basketball, shall we?
Bargnani stated that he and the Raptors have discussed things and that the best thing for him is to take the summer off from the National Team so that he can focus on, and work towards being fully healthy and prepared for next season in Toronto.
While Bargnani is reportedly all healed up, he and the Raptors obviously don’t want to risk anything heading into what will be an important season in the team’s development, and what is likely the most important season of Bargnani’s career, as is the case in every season we enter when it comes to the “enigma of all enigmas.”
Whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, Bargnani will likely continue to be in Toronto’s plans for the time being, so I’m glad he won’t be risking any set backs by playing in some low level, low meaning games.
For those of you not exactly up to date with your Euro basketball, Italy has suffered quite a fall from grace in recent years (despite the presence of Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli) and won’t be participating in the Summer Olympics this year, as the program isn’t even taking part in the Olympic qualification tournament in July.
Instead, the team will be playing in much less prestigious qualifying matches for Eurobasket 2013 (basketball’s equivalent of soccer’s “Euro”) against the likes of Turkey, Czech Republic, Portugal and Belarus. Had he been involved, Bargnani would have had to train with the team for part of the summer and then play eight games between August 15 and September 8.
“Not worth it” would be a massive under-statement, no matter how much I want the program to get back to respectability.
To pour some gasoline on the fire of the impending debate as to whether Bargnani really is a changed player if not for the calf injury, here are some interesting statistics:
Bargnani’s first 13 games of 2011-12 season: 36.1 MPG, 23.5 PPG (47.6% FG, 34% 3PT), 6.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 6.4 FTA
Bargnani’s last 18 games of the season: 31.2 MPG, 16.5 PPG, (39.2% FG, 25.8% 3PT), 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG
While there were signs of the injury being a legitimate excuse for the ridiculous drop-off (like a lack of burst and slower first step), the reason I can’t buy that argument is that Bargnani had two of his best games of the season, if not of his career, in his first two games back after the injury in Phoenix and Utah and just didn’t seem to have the same effort in his final 18 games.
Of course, you could also argue that once Andrea re-aggravated the injury in Utah, it was more of a subconscious issue, in terms of trusting his leg, than a conscious decision not to push himself.
Whatever the true answer is, we’ll have a better chance of finding it out if Bargnani comes into training camp after a Raptors-controlled summer rather than after an Italian Team-controlled summer.
In that everlasting search for answers when it comes to Andrea Bargnani, this news, while minor, should be welcomed by Raptors fans.