Italy's first ten minutes proved to be enough in the end to beat a scrappy Israeli team 75-62 in Group D action.
Giampiero Ticchi's squad opened the game on fire, scoring 32 points in the first ten minutes while Israel struggled to break into double digits (10).
Almost half of Italy's first-quarter explosion came from the hot hand of Raffaella Masciardi. She found her stroke early from downtown and hit five triples in the quarter.
The Italian shooter modestly gave credit to her team-mates.
"We played very hard, a lot of intensity at the beginning, so we got the win.
I think we came out with a great mentality, being very aggressive at both ends of the court and that generated our extra points," she said.
Israel looked punch-drunk after the onslaught.
"Yeah, more than thirty points in the quarter, that's crazy, that's way too much, but I think it was the nerves. They just came firing. It seemed like they couldn't even miss a shot," said Israel's Liad Suez Karni.
The forward, who had a team-high 18 points to go with four boards coming off the bench, chalked it up to butterflies in the stomach.
"We knew it was a big game and the nerves overcame us a bit," she said.
Once Israel got the "nerves" worked out, it was able to stop the bleeding and start to chip away at the Italian's lead.
Starting with the second quarter Israel coach Eli Rabi started to mix defenses, using a lot of zone and pressing full court when Italy in-bounded the ball.
Over the course of the game it led to18 turnovers by Italy. Point guard Mariangela Cirone had as many turnovers as points (5).
Israel converted those give-aways into 25 points.
But for as good as the Israeli defense became, Italy still found ways to respond to each run their opponent tried to mount.
And Israel continued to struggle from the floor shooting only 39% from the field for the entire game.
"Mostly it came down to us executing more. Defensively we did really well after the second quarter but we couldn't score enough. We got stop after stop, but we missed open shots and made some mistakes. I am disappointed, but we will grieve a little but and then think about France tomorrow," Suez Karni said
Israeli guard Shay Doron seconded her team-mate's mood, saying she too was "disappointed" with the team's performance.
She pointed to a lack of mental concentration on the court.
"We just don't think. We don't think when we play. We have a game plan. Some one does something else. And we're not on the same page. It looks like garbage. It looks like what it is," she said.
Besides the hot shooting of Masciardi in the first quarter, Italy's win was also based on dominating the boards. The had 26 total rebounds, seven coming off the offensive glass.
Italy turned those offensive boards into ten points while not giving up one single second chance point to Israel.
After a 32 point first quarter, Italy only managed 14 in the next ten minutes.
The second quarter was more defined by the number of fouls- Italy committed five and Israel eight- than offensive precision. Masciardi got trigger shy and Katia Levitsky of Israel dished out her third block of the half.
Then Doron, after just one point in the first quarter, got aggressive on the offensive end.
Five straight points by Doron cut it to 32-17 with a little over eight minutes to go before the midway break.
But that would be as close as Israel would get in the half as Italy's Maria Franchini banked in a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded from behind the half court line. The amazing shot sent her team to the locker room with a 46-26 lead.
As a sign it was not to be Israel's day, Levitsky and Liron Cohen missed consecutive wide-open lay ups near the six-minute mark in the third quarter.
A triple by Mascriardi from the left corner, finally finding the whole in Israel's 3-2 zone, pushed the lead back up to 55-33 half-way through the third.
But over the course of the next three minutes, Italy would turn the ball over three times against the press while Israel scored ten points on five straight possessions to cut it to 45-55 at the 1:56 mark.
Masciardi finally ended the drought with yet another three 56 seconds from the end of the quarter to push Italy back ahead 59-45.
Giampero Ticchi, Italy Head Coach
"Israel is a very good team. They play good basketball. This game we had very good 3-point shooting. In the second half Israel changed defense and we lost the rhythm of the game, but we never had fear of losing this game. I think that we are smart and have strong concentration that's way we can play a good basketball."
Eli Rabi, Israel Head Coach
"First, I congratulate the Italian coach and players. Now - after the game - I can tell the game ended after the first quarter. The Italians were well prepared and played good. In the second half we tried to come back but we didn't manage. We did the best but it wasn't enough."