Top-five contenders: Benetton Basket, Bennet Cantu, EA7 Emporio Armani, Montepaschi, Virtus Roma
Like the Greek economy, Italian basketball is currently in deep crisis. The Italian national team has missed qualifying for all major tournaments since 2008 -- Beijing Olympics, EuroBasket 2009, 2010 FIBA Worlds -- and though they played in EuroBasket 2011, it was only due to an increased number of teams. On the club level, which was dominant last century, also seems to be going down and is a shadow of its former self.
The only bright thing in Italian basketball right now ins Montepaschi Siena. The Greens dominate in Italian league as they have won five titles in a row and are one of the strongest powers in European basketball. Montepaschi did all necessary moves in the offseason by re-signing Bo McCalebb and then added two NBA players, David Andersen and DaJuan Summers -- to stay on top and put themselves in position to win a sixth championship in a row.
However, Montepaschi was not the only Italian team that used the NBA lockout to strengthen its roster. Italy, together with Turkey, were the most active countries during the lockout and, for example, Benetton Treviso was able to find the funds to sign Jeff Adrien, E’Twaun Moore and Brian Scalabrine.
Of course, Adrien and Moore can leave Treviso any minute, while Montepaschi signed all their players untill at least end of season and that gives the Greens sense of assurance regarding future.
NBA players in Italy:
Jeff Adrien (Golden State Warriors) - Benetton Treviso (NBA-out)
David Andersen (New Orleans Hornets) - Montepaschi Siena (no NBA-out)
Keith Benson (Atlanta Hawks) - Dinamo Sassari (NBA-out)
Chris Douglas-Roberts (Milwaukee Bucks) - Virtus Bologna (no NBA-out)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets) - Olimpia Milano (NBA-out)
E'Twaun Moore (Boston Celtics) - Benetton Treviso (NBA-out)
Brian Scalabrine (Chicago Bulls) - Benetton Treviso (no NBA-out)
DaJuan Summers (Detroit Pistons) - Montepaschi Siena (no NBA-out)
Garrett Temple (Charlotte Bobcats) - Casale (no NBA-out)
Von Wafer (Boston Celtics) - Cremona (no NBA-out)