The Dallas Mavericks traded for Nicolo Melli and J.J. Redick on March 25. They wanted to add floor spacing and versatility for their playoff run. Redick suffered a season-ending injury, and Melli played just 19 minutes in the postseason. Both men are free agents this summer, but first Melli is trying to help Italy reach the Olympics.
The Italians defeated Puerto Rico to win their group. They faced the Dominican Republic on Saturday in a must-win game. It would not be an easy game, but Melli and his national team were ready.
The 30-year-old forward finally found his shot and was impacting the game in multiple ways. Here is a closer look at Melli’s performance and what to expect going forward.
Dallas Mavericks forward Nicolo Melli helps Italy top Dominican Republic
Melli drew his second straight start but missed both of his field goals in the first quarter. He had two rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 8.5 minutes of action as Italy jumped out to an eight-point lead after one.
The 30-year-old forward was still scoreless after the opening 20 minutes. Italy expanded their lead to 12 points with Melli providing plenty. He grabbed three more rebounds in the second quarter and was doing little things like setting screens to free his teammates.
Melli finally broke his scoring drought just seconds into the second half. He got a steal and slam dunk off a fast break.
Italy blew the game wide open in the third quarter by outscoring the Dominican Republic 24-8. Melli got rolling too. He had five points, two steals, and one block to help Italy take a commanding advantage.
Italy finished off the dominating win on July 3. Melli finished with five points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block in 21.5 minutes. It was an impressive performance by the 30-year-old forward and his national team.
The win pushes Italy into the finals. They must win on Sunday to advance to the Olympics. Italy plays the winner of Serbia and Puerto Rico at 1:20 p.m. CT on July 4. Nicolo Melli is just starting to hit his stride. Will he lift Italy to Tokyo? Stay tuned to find out.