On cloud nine: Gabriele Procida and his impressive EuroLeague debut

Orazio Cauchi
Staff Writer
2022-10-09 09:35

On his EuroLeague debut, Italian wing Gabriele Procida was able to impress with 12 points in just 12 minutes on the court. He was everything you could've expected him to be: intense, spectacular, and accurate from deep. The young gun might become one of the best surprises of this EuroLeague season

Credit: IMAGO/camera4+

For a 20-year-old kid who had never played a single minute of EuroLeague basketball in his career, Gabriele Procida showed absolutely no fear in his debut at the highest level of European competition. 

Thrown into the game at the end of the first quarter by head coach Israel Gonzalez, the ALBA Berlin's rookie was quick to make an impact on the game. He first served an assist to Johannes Thiemann, then, at the beginning of the second quarter, he made the first 3-pointer of his EuroLeague career. 

Less than a minute after that 3-point shot, Procida sent the crowd on fire with one of his signature moves: the put-back dunk off a rebound.

Player of the Game
Luke  Sikma
Luke Sikma
Points 15
Accuracy 4-7
Rebounds 6
Assists 7

Yovel Zoosman missed a 3-pointer, but Partizan's defense completely forgot to box out the Italian wing. Procida came from the side and, with an emphatic dunk, gave ALBA Berlin a twenty points lead over the Serbian side. 

That moment quickly turned into one of the highlights of the EuroLeague night. But Procida decided that one highlight wasn't enough for the night, so a couple of minutes later, he received an alley-oop pass from Luke Sikma, and with another impressive dunk, he jumped over Mathias Lessort and hanged over him with a decent amount of disrespect. 

The German side had an amazing offensive night, they scored 61 points at the end of the first half (a record for the club), and they finished the game with 100 points and 31 assists. A real offensive masterclass. The ball was moving effectively throughout the game, and the players shared it beautifully. 

In this kind of contest, Procida looks like a perfect fit. The Italian wing is a really good three-point shooter and can run the floor extremely well. His athleticism is already at the EuroLeague level and even impressed many NBA executives. 

In Italy, Procida was already considered a top prospect in the past few years. Still, especially in the last two years, he always played for teams that got relegated from the top division.

First with Cantù and then with Fortitudo Bologna, we saw flashes of how good Procida could be in the future. Still, we also saw how coaches never really trusted him fully, often leaving him on the bench because he wasn't ready enough. 

This was one of the main reasons why Procida signed a multi-year deal with ALBA Berlin after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft. 

Everyone knows that the German club is the perfect environment for a young player who wants to improve and get ready for the next level. ALBA is not the type of club that has the pressure to make the EuroLeague playoffs every season. They play a very specific type of basketball, and their player development policy is one of the best in the continent. 

There's a culture in place that just makes the players better. Luke Sikma, who has been with ALBA since 2017, has often turned down more lucrative offers to remain in Berlin and keep being a central point of this growing project. Most of the time, if you sign for ALBA Berlin, you're doing it for the long run, not just for one season. You don't join only the club, you commit to the project. 

When Procida signed with ALBA, many people, especially in Italy, saw that move as a 'Simone Fontecchio 2.0 project'. When Fontecchio joined ALBA Berlin in 2020, he came from a couple of difficult seasons in Milan, where he never found a consistent role. 

He had played a good half-season with Reggio Emilia in 2018-2019, but not many people believed he had the right qualities to play in EuroLeague. 

ALBA Berlin took a chance on him, and in just one season, Fontecchio became one of the most coveted players in Europe. He turned into an extremely efficient scorer with a lot of confidence and the ability to impact the game on the defensive end. 

After a season with Baskonia, Fontecchio joined the Utah Jazz in the NBA and became the leader of the Italian national team that reached the quarter-finals both in the Olympic Games and in EuroBasket. 

The hope is that Gabriele Procida can follow in Fontecchio's footsteps and becomes the next successful investment made by ALBA Berlin. 

The beginning of his experience with the German side for sure was an exciting one. There's no doubt that there'll be growing pains, at the end of the day, Procida is only 20 years old and still needs to improve several aspects of his game, and not every night will be like last night for ALBA when everything clicked, and Partizan looked completely unable to answer. 

But judging from the first signals we saw on Friday, 12 points in just 12 minutes on the court and nine scored in the second quarter only, the Gabriele Procida experience might be a lot of fun.

So, fasten your seatbelts because the Italian wing is ready to go places, and he's not going to ask for permission. 


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