Italbasket show, Gianmarco Pozzecco exults

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Italy-Serbia 89-88

It’s a great Italy that beats Serbia (89-88) in the first of two games at the Acropolis Tournament. After their splendid success at the EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16 last summer in Berlin, Italy repeated in style by coming back from -17 at the start of the game. This brings the total to 3 wins in the last 4 challenges to Serbia between official and friendly matches. Non-trivial figure given the precedents before from 2008 to 2021. It is only the third friendly of the 7 scheduled and the World Cup is still many days away, but the signs coming from the Azzurro team are more than positive.

Tomorrow, Thursday, August 10, the second and final match of the event against Greece: 6:45 p.m. in Italy with live coverage on Sky Sport Arena.

Thus CT Gianmarco Pozzecco: “It is a preparation friendly but we are really very happy and proud to have fought against one of the strongest teams in Europe and the World. I feel like congratulating both teams for the tough game they played. The veterans were crucial again tonight and the young guys helped us a lot. These guys love playing in this jersey.”

The first quarter is of the Serbian brand. Coach Pesic’s men get off the blocks with 5 threes, led by a perfect Nikola Jovic (2/2, 1/1, 1/1). Very high percentages that send the Azzurri even to -17 (28-11). Having cashed the jolt, Italy tries to react and the energy of Matteo Spagnolo, announced today as the new player of Alba Berlin (he will find his national teammate Gabriele Procida in Germany), is a panacea. Serbia makes very few mistakes and with Marinkovic’s buzzer beater closes the first half 32-19. The second quarter opens with a 5-0 Azzurro run signed Datome and Severini (3) closed immediately by Guduric but Spagnolo is on fire and with the captain and Diouf builds the -6 (36-30) for the overall 11-4 of the first three excellent minutes of the second fraction. Severini and again Momo Diouf, both from 3, blow up the Azzurra bench and Italy ties (36-36). Milutinov under our basket is a factor and Serbia benefits from it to get out of an uncomfortable situation. But up to a point because Polonara’s triple is again the -1 one. Too bad the lost ball at the buzzer that launches Avramovic’s counterattack. First half in the archives 47-44 Serbia.

The Azzurra wave does not stop at the beginning of the second half either: Spissu from three, Polonara and Melli equalize and put the arrow in (51-54). From here on it’s overtakes and counter-overtakes to the sound of triples (Fontecchio and Marinkovic, Ricci and Jovic) until the last mini siren: 70-70. The last 10 minutes begin with a technical whistled to coach Pozzecco and with Serbia surging forward again, immediately reeled in by the triple of a super Severini (73-73 at 33rd). Azzurro breakaway with Pajola and Procida, who after a 3/3 at the free throws sprinted on the counterattack for +5 (80-75). With 6 minutes to go, Italy is more alive than ever and holds up to the Serbian bump. Indeed, it stretches again with Fontecchio and Spissu’s triple (movie already seen, with pleasure, several times). With less than two minutes to go, Italy ahead 88-82. Three-point play by the usual Jovic and Melli’s fifth foul: double bad news for the Azzurri with only a three-point lead and a handful of seconds on the clock. Fontecchio makes 1/2 from the lunette and Bogdanovic puts it in from three but it’s not enough. Italy wins 89-88!

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