"Coach Tanjevic taught the players that the more they work, the more they win," Dino Meneghin said after Italy's 64-56 defeat of Spain in the final the next day. With its victory Italy also stamped its ticket for Sydney, earning a spot in the Olympics for the first time since 1984. Five other European teams also claimed Olympic bids with their performances in France, including the host country, ending its own 16-year drought. Spain, Yugoslavia, Lithuania and Russia will join the French in Sydney, while disappointments Croatia and Greece won't have to worry about being fodder for an NBA Dream Team.
Speaking of the NBA, the league may have been the biggest underachiever of the Eurobasket. Despite all the NBA players who took part—Croatia's Kukoc, Yugoslavia's Vlade Divac and Predrag Stojakovic, France's Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Slovenia's Radoslav Nesterovic, Lithuania's Arvydas Sabonis and Germany's Dirk Nowitzki—two teams without a single NBA player contested the final. The younger Meneghin had a theory. "Maybe other teams gave too much responsibility to their NBA players," he said. "We knew we had to play together to win."
Though Fu?ka was named the Eurobasket's MVP, Meneghin scored (11.2 points per game), passed (3.6 assists) and defended (1.7 steals) while bringing backcourt order to his point-less team. All of which should commend him to the NBA. "For now, no one drafts me," Andrea said with a shrug. "I can't go if no one drafts me."
Asked if he envisioned Andrea in the league in which he might have played, Dino seemed to hint at an answer. "He's a completely different player from me," he said. "More moves. More shots. Much better."
Of course their differences hardly needed pointing out to anyone who had seen both Meneghins play. But just so there would be no mistake, Andrea disclaimed his father as inspiration for his game, citing instead "Sabonis and Kukoc. And many NBA players. Magic Johnson. Michael Jordan. Larry Bird. And especially Julius Erving."
A surprise father last week, that Doctor J. Twice over.