|08 August 2012|
|Captain Stefano Mancinelli is confident that Italy will enter the Qualification Round with great motivation|
Italy launch their EuroBasket Qualification Round campaign in a week's time but before their 15 August opener against Portugal in Sassari, Simone Piangiani's side has a couple of important friendly clashes with Croatia.
On Wednesday, the Azzurri host Croatia in Trieste.
The Italians will then travel to Croatia to meet Jasmin Repesa's team again on Thursday.
"We have to improve and these two tests against Croatia will be important," Italy captain Stefano Mancinelli said.
"Up to this point, the team has responded well and has played good games.
"We have lost our last game against Poland, even though we won the (Sopot Basket Cup) tournament, due to certain mistakes we made at the end but we kept up until the finish.
"We have a great will to do well because at European level, we still haven't proved anything."
Eight years ago at this time, Italy were making headlines at the Athens Olympics.
They made a surprising run to the Final where Argentina beat the Carlo Recalcati-coached Azzurri.
Italy are in the same EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round group with Turkey, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Portugal.
"We can play against anyone, even though the Turks and the Czechs have something extra with respect to the other teams.
"We will all have to play at 100% of our capability in all the games and try to limit making mistakes."
Contrite Bogdanovic Back With Croatia
Croatia, meanwhile, have welcomed Bojan Bogdanovic back to the fold after the player was dropped for breaking team rules.
Bogdanovic offered a written apology.
"First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize to all Croatian citizens, basketball fans, the Croatian Basketball Federation, you personally, the expert panel, and especially my teammates for the incident that I did during the preparations and for which I was rightfully expelled from the team.
"I sincerely hope you will accept my apology and allow me to return to the team, and I promise you that I will approach the work and justify the trust."
Repesa and captain Roko Ukic have decided Bogdanovic can return, so he may feature against the Italians.
Croatia will take on Ukraine, Cyprus, Austria and Hungary in the Qualification Round.