Vitali Steers Italy To Victory

20 July 2006

A 14-0 run in the fourth quarter helped Italy overcome Croatia 86-74 and book their place in the semi-finals of the OSTCHEM U20 European Championships.

Luca Vitali made eight free throws in the final 56 seconds to seal the victory, which gives Italy a 2-1 record in the Group F quarter-final round.

Croatia finished the group with a 1-2 record.

The game was tight for the first three quarters. Croatia's biggest lead was 13-6 early on, while Italy were up 52-47 midway through the third period.

Croatia then held a 64-61 advantage in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, but Luigi Da Tome and Vitali hit three-pointers as Italy went on a 14-0 run to open a 75-64 bulge with 3:25 remaining in the game.

Jure Lalic's free throw cut the deficit to 77-70 with 1:13 left, but from that point on Italian coach Pino Sacripanti made sure the ball stayed in Vitali's hands.

And the Premiata Montegranaro guard was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line in the final 56 seconds to keep Croatia at bay.

Italy made 22 of 25 free throws, led by Vitali who hit 10-of-10 while scoring 15 points and adding six rebounds.

Michele Antonutti led all scorers with 23 points and had seven rebounds. Da Tome had 17 points and 11 rebounds while Luca Lechthaler chipped in with 13 points.

Lalic paced the Croatians with 19 points while Andrija Stipanovic had 12 points and Rok Stipcevic 11 points.

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