Turning Point: With 1:15 to play in the second quarter, Alessia Cabrini got a rebound and passed to Cecilia Zandalasini for the fast break. Italy reached a six-point lead and then cruised to victory in the second half.
Game Hero: Italy depends on Cecilia Zandalasini. She is the team leader and the problem solver. Once again, the points she made during the first half stopped the Slovaks from taking the lead.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy made 63 per cent of their two-point shots, but missed all seven three-point attempts. They won the game in the paint.
|Cecilia Zandalasini carried her team in the first half, when Italy struggled against a dedicated Slovakian side.|
Italy overcame the Slovak Republic, 72-36, after a difficult first half, when the Slovakians kept the last Quarter-Final of the U16 European Championship Women very even.
Italy will face Belgium on Saturday in the remake of last year's Semi-Final.
While the Italians approached the game physically, making use of their stronger bodies, the Slovaks preferred a game based on technique, searching for open shots.
Italy made a 9-2 run to start the game but let Slovakia react at the end of the quarter, with Natalia Jelencikova having a leading role.
The Slovak Republic also scored under the basket, with Italy being more efficient scoring off fast breaks.
Slovak Republic leveled the game at 14-14, but Italy soon reacted with a 8-0 run, gaining advantage in the match.
Their opponents, still, worked hard to get back in the game and find open shots.
Italy was carried by Cecilia Zandalasini, who proved to be much more than a go-to player, getting her job done offensively and defensively.
At half time, Italy led 32-24, with Zandalasini summing up 10 points and seven rebounds.
Italy came out stronger in the second half, mostly benefiting from the Slovak Republic's tiredness, something that also showed in other matches as, every time the Slovaks faced a stronger team, they struggled to keep fighting after the first twenty minutes.
Italy gained confidence, leading by twenty-two points at the end of the third quarter, 49-27.
In the last quarter, Italy showed some beautiful plays, strengthening their efforts to get a bigger lead and also get in the right pace to face Belgium.
Finally, Italy dominated under the baskets, scoring 40 points more in the paint than their opponents, 56-16, and also won the rebound battle, 43-28.
Cecilia Zandalasini finished with 13 points, letting her teammates shine in the second part of the game, like Isabel Romano, who scored nine points, as well as Francesca Russo and Annalisa Vitari, who scored eight points each.
The Italian bench players scored, in total, 37 points.
In the Slovakian team, Lucia Ondrejkova, scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds, had the most interesting performance.