Italy’s ups and downs do not undermine Filippo Lanza’s strong show at Grand Champions Cup
However, since the start of the tournament there has been a regular feature on the Italian side of the net, namely wing-spiker Filippo Lanza who on Friday top scored for the European vice champions as they lost 2-3 to USA their first game at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
“Our coach is trying to use every single opportunity to make sure that those players who have less experience can fully profit of this tournament,” Lanza says after finishing Friday’s game against USA with 22 points including 1 block and 2 aces. “I did not play at the European Championship two months ago and of course I am very pleased with the fact that I can help and support the team as much as I can. Anyway, we did not come here just to test or experiment different things; we always want to win and our goal is to get a medal come Sunday and the end of the tournament here in Tokyo.”
After winning gold at the Mediterranean Games in Turkey and getting some playing time in the World League, Lanza is making his debut on the starting six in a major competition. “This is a very difficult tournament,” he says about the World Grand Champions Cup. “We came here with no preparation at all for we just came together the same day we flew to Japan. It is also a very demanding tournament for you play many matches in a row and you do not have that much time to recover. On top of that, you get to play the very best teams in the world so every day you are supposed to perform your best to stand a chance.” Standing at 198 cm, Lanza is rather "short" for contemporary volleyball but he compensates for this deficit with excellent technique, playing intelligently and quickly adjusting to different situations and opponents.
Everything sounds pretty new for Filippo who had never been to Japan before. “Though I have been here only for a few days and we are busy with the tournament and our practices, I have to say that this country has already left quite an impression on me. The people here are extremely gentle and polite. We can learn a lot from their culture and attitude; it really amazes me. We have been visiting Kyoto and Tokyo though shortly and I am sure that there are many more things I would like to discover if one day I come back to this country.”
Lanza is a member of Italy’s “nouvelle vague” and this year has also participated in the FIVB Club World Championship in Brazil where he won bronze with Trentino Diatec. “The time difference and our busy schedule makes it somehow difficult to chat with my friends there but my coach Roberto Serniotti has sent a nice message to congratulate me on my performance. Once I go back we will surely have the time to talk more and I will be happy to share my Japanese experience with the people in Trento.”
On Saturday Italy will play their next-to-last game in the tournament as they take on hosts Japan. “It is going to be a difficult match,” says Lanza. “We are getting a little tired and I know Japan will be extra motivated for they play at home. They defend a lot so we still have to study their play and will prepare accordingly. We are going to have a video session tonight and get ready for tomorrow. We want to go home with a medal and in order to achieve this goal we need to beat Japan.”