If today’s team sports are often dominated by athleticism and speediness, that is certainly true for Basketball. For this reason it is not so common to find a 40 year old player still fighting in the Italian top-league, one of the top in European basketball.
Gianluca Basile was born in 1975 in Ruvo di Puglia, a small town in Italy’s deep south, and this year marks his 20thseason as a professional basketball player.
“In my first years basketball was less physical and more technical. The only main difference between then and now is that today’s game is more athletic and less technical, but my motivations are intact: I simply still enjoying playing this sport.”
His long journey in the basketball world started in 1995, when as a relatively unknown young player he travelled from his hometown Ruvo di Puglia to Reggio Emilia, to play for Pallacanestro Reggiana, nowadays one of the main Italian teams.
“My first memory of those years was the long train trip to reach Reggio. A endless journey spent on carriage’s corridor, it was terrible”, Basile says, “I finally arrived on a Sunday morning, and I was supposed to be picked up at the station by Max Menetti (at that time a Youth Team Assistant Coach,today’s Reggio Emilia Main Team Head Coach), but no one was there. I had to wait for Max for over an hour!”
If usually you can see from the start how things will turn out, that was not the case for Basile’s experience in Reggio: in three and a half seasons he averaged over 10 points per game, revealing himself as a ‘star in-the-making’.
The next stop was Bologna, where he played for Fortitudo, one of the biggest Italian teams at that time. Basile spent six and a half seasons there, bringing Fortitudo to its first two Italian Championships (2000 and 2005), and emerging as an elite-player (Italian League MVP in 2004). Basile remarks Bologna as a “wonderful city and team”; those years coincided also with his golden years with the Italian National Team, bronze medallist in 2003 European Championships and runner-up in 2004 Olympics, where Basile was Italian leading scorer and one of the Tournament’s best players. His highlight with Italian NT was the 2004 Olympic Semi-final, won by Italy thanks to Basile’s 31 points:
“I consider that game against Lithuania as the best game in my career because the stakes were really high. I am not a guy constantly in search of memories; I rarely look behind to what I have done in the past. But as immediately I hear Italian national anthem, my ‘azzurri’ memories comes to light: I am very proud of what I did with the National Team”.
Third step of Basile’s career was Barcelona, where he won seven domestic trophies and, in 2010, the Euroleague, the main European basketball competition for clubs. Spain was truly his peak, not only as a talented player but also as a man: “Barcelona was unforgettable too, but my sweetest memory is a non-basketball one: the birth of my daughter, Federica”. After six seasons in Spain, Basile came back to Italy, playing for Bennet Cantù “It was my ‘big’ return, both to Italy and from a year away for an injury” and Emporio Armani Milano “An experience that I was right to do”.
At 38 year old and with countless memories Basile, instead of retiring, decided to make a sort of return to his origin, signing for Italian second league team Capo d’Orlando:
“I felt it that way, as a return with an enriched luggage. Here in ‘Capo’ I found a healthy and familiar atmosphere, and I rediscovered what it means to play just for the love for the game. In the big teams you often don’t find that chemistry that is crucial in order to succeed. In Capo d’Orlando everyone treats me like a God, I can rely on everyone for everything.”
Last summer Basile decided to return for a 20th season, which it will probably be the last of his distinguishedcareer:
“When I started playing, I would never have thought about having such a career, but I was hoping to. It was my childhood dream.”
On his free time from basketball, Basile enjoys some fishing (sometimes he takes his teammates), an activity that could be part of his life after basketball:
“I still haven’t thought about what’s coming up in my future but you never know. Perhaps the sea could be my tomorrow…!”