Italy overcame a lot of inconsistent play to hold off Latvia 66-58 in the Qualifying Round at the U18 European Championship Men 2009 in Metz, France.
Alessandro Ramagli's side built some sizeable leads in both halves but allowed their opponents to get back in the game before eventually prevailing in an unconvincing way.
The Azzurri jumped out to a quick double-digit lead, 14-4, on Luca Fontecchio's basket and led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
And they extended that advantage to 24-10 on Filipo Baldi Rossi's tip-in early in the second quarter but their shooting stroke deserted them in an instant, allowing Latvia to outscore them 20-9 for the rest of the first half and trail by just three, 33-30, at the break.
Italy though recovered midway through the third quarter, thanks to some inspiring play from Achille Polonara. He scored eight of his 14 points in the period as Italy, slowly but surely, pulled away again taking a 49-42 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Latvia made another push to get within two, 59-57, on Klavs Freimanis's three-pointer with under three minutes left in the contest, but Riccardo Moraschini went on a personal 5-0 run with a long bomb of his own and a lay-up to restore a 64-57 advantage and time ran out for the Latvians.
Moraschini matched Polonara for team-high in scoring with 14 points and the latter also grabbed seven rebounds.
Armands Osins was the high-man for Latvia with 14 points as well and Martins Meiers added 10 to go along with 11 rebounds.