By Cesare Milanti / email@example.com
BOLOGNA, Italy – The name of Achille Polonara had been on Virtus Bologna’s radar for quite some time, and it looked natural this agreement would become reality sooner or later. That’s why, when the black-and-white Italian club announced his addition, it really felt natural to see him there.
Smiling and feeling good during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Media Day with his 5th different team in the competition after representing Baskonia, Fenerbahce, Anadolu Efes, and Zalgiris Kaunas, Achille Polonara shared his early emotions after coming back from the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila.
Working early on his own, the 31-year-old power forward is eager to help Virtus Bologna. “I’ve been here for only a few days, and I trained alone while the guys were playing the Magenta Cup in Munich. I have nothing but positive feelings, I came at a pretty peculiar moment with the new head coach, which is not something we’re used to in this period of the year. But we have everything to do well, with a deep roster like ours”, he said in an interview with Eurohoops.
Talking about the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where he averaged 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds while struggling from beyond the arc (0/22 3PTS), there was another Italian who stole the show by guiding Latvia at the 5th position in the country’s first-ever participation at the International campaign.
Luca Banchi, landing from Riga where he was celebrated as a hero, accepted to take the empty seat on Virtus Bologna’s bench, being left by the departing Sergio Scariolo. “I believe he’s an élite head coach, who brings high experience. He proved it at the World Cup”, Achille Polonara commented on the former Olimpia Milano and Mens Sana Siena’s head coach.
Seeing how well he exploited the qualities of forwards like David Bertans or Rolands Smits in the past few months during his adventure with the Latvian national team, Luca Banchi could be the perfect fit for a stretch four like the former Zalgiris Kaunas’ number 33. “He will be important also to my skills and qualities, and then it’s up to me to demonstrate my value on the court. He could surely help in letting me express myself in the best way possible. He will guide us to important goals”, Polonara added.
In Bologna, Achille Polonara will meet once again his former Baskonia teammate Toko Shengelia, with whom he played his first EuroLeague season in 2019-20. “We played one significant year in Baskonia, even though it was my first experience at the EuroLeague level. Those have been two important years for me”, the Italian said about the Georgian.
Considering the versatility of Virtus Bologna’s frontcourt, which can rely also on Jordan Mickey, Devontae Cacok, and the veteran Bryant Dunston, the 31-year-old is looking forward to sharing the court once again with the former CSKA Moscow player. “We proved that if needed we can play together as 4 and 5, we belong to the same position on the court but we can help the time with a small-sized five, being two compatible bigs. Naturally, for the good of the team, we will give what’s needed”, Achille Polonara also commented on Toko Shengelia.
Following Luca Banchi’s words on what playing for Bologna means, Achille Polonara is excited about this new chapter in his career. “Coming to play in Bologna has always been very tough because here there’s one of the best fan bases in Italy, with tons of supporters spread all throughout Italy. It’s a historic club, both in Italy and in Europe, and I remember that playing against Virtus always looked like a battle”, he said before touching on the legends who have been here in the past.
Being surrounded by Virtus Bologna’s myths in the Porelly Gym, Achille Polonara was breathing legendary air. “Representing Virtus is surely an honor: you only have to look at who precedes us in wearing this jersey, and you instantly get goosebumps. There have been crucial players here, even with NBA experiences. Playing for this team is truly amazing”, he finally stated to Eurohoops.
PHOTO CREDIT: 2023 FIBA World Cup
Source: Euro Hoops