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Friday, March 1, 2024

Knicks’ Donte DiVincenzo eyeing spot on Italian Olympic team

HOUSTON — Donte DiVincenzo, the sharpshooting Knicks guard, said he’d “love” to represent Italy in the upcoming Olympics but hurdles remain between his eligibility.

“Ideally, I would love to,” DiVincenzo told The Post. “Logistically and how everything plays out, I don’t know if it’s possible. But if everything works out perfectly, I would love to.”

DiVincenzo, who was born in America with an Italian family heritage, said he’s in the process of securing the necessary paperwork for citizenship and hopes “it’s almost done.”

Another concern, as DiVincenzo outlined, is whether a deep Knicks playoff run would affect the Olympic qualifying tournament, which begins a couple weeks after the NBA Finals conclude.

“Multiple factors weigh into this,” he said.

Italy, unlike the United States, has to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The Italians face Bahrain in their opener to Olympic qualifying on July 2, then Puerto Rico on July 4.

Both those games are in Puerto Rico. The Olympic tournament starts July 27.

Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo #0, reacts after the Knicks turned the ball over in the 3rd quarter.
Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo #0, reacts after the Knicks turned the ball over in the 3rd quarter. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“There’s a few more hoops to jump through,” DiVincenzo told The Post. “But it’s something I told my family, my agent, that I wanted to do — to be able to represent a country. And hopefully I can get all the paperwork done and be out there as soon as possible.”

FIBA tournaments only allow one naturalized citizen per team, and the Italians were eager to secure Orlando Magic big man Paolo Banchero for that spot ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

However, Banchero, whose father is of Italian descent, reneged on a verbal commitment and opted for Team USA.

It prompted Italy’s federation president to slam Banchero for “fooling us.” The ordeal could help explain any hesitancy in bringing DiVincenzo aboard.

Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo #0, shooting a 3-point shot in the 1st quarter..
Donte DiVincenzo wasn’t among those considered for the US team. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Post emailed the Italian Basketball Federation for comment.

DiVincenzo, unlike Banchero, wasn’t among the 41-player Olympic pool for Team USA. The Delaware native would be Italy’s lone naturalized player in Paris.

The Italians have not medaled at the Olympics since taking silver at Athens in 2004, when they lost to Argentina in the final.

They finished fifth in Japan 2020, an impressive showing considering the Azzurri failed to qualify for the previous three Olympics.

The Knicks have two players in USA’s Olympic pool — Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart — although their chances of making the squad took a hit when legends Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Steph Curry put their names in the hat.

Brunson and Hart, both part of USA’s World Cup squad from the 2023 summer that finished in fourth place, were also teammates with DiVincenzo in college at Villanova.

On DiVincenzo potentially joining Italy and going head-to-head in the Olympics, Brunson said Monday, “That’d be cool. … That’s an opportunity for him that if he wants to do it, I’d be more than happy to support him in that decision.”

Team USA clinched an automatic bid for the Olympics.

“If we do play or don’t play or whatever, it is what it is, because we’ve had a lot of battles,” Brunson added.

DiVincenzo will also be a first-time father by the time the Olympics roll around, with his girlfriend, Morgan Calantoni, revealing on Instagram last week that she’s eight months pregnant with a boy.

DiVincenzo told The Post that their plans after basketball include opening their own haven for rescue dogs, a project the couple has discussed for “the past six or seven years.”

They’ve taken steps of trying to identify land to house the dogs and “are slowly learning about foundations and rescues that do things the right way.”

So DiVincenzo has a lot going on, including his surge with the Knicks this season (he entered Monday with more treys than any Eastern Conference player since Dec. 30) and the possibility of representing Italy in the Olympics.

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