|Center Marte Alexander could not miss for Italy as she went 9/10 from the field and 21 points in Kaunas|
A stunning final quarter brought Italy back from the abyss against Lithuania and back to having their destiny in their own hands after they celebrated a super 83-81 victory in Kaunas.
Coach Ticchi and his team who endured a terrible start to the campaign now have a great chance of booking their place next year in Poland after conjuring up a blistering last quarter to squeeze past the already qualified Lithuanians.
Trailing 65-56 at the end of the third quarter, it looked like Italy were going to crash and burn but they finished like an express train, outscoring the hosts 27-16 during the last ten minutes.
Marte Alexander was immense and she finished with 21 points in 23 minutes before fouling out although the Italian side were also hugging veteran Maria Franchini whose only three points in the game came with the pivotal ‘And-1' play which sealed the win.
During the early part of the contest there was little to separate both teams at 15-15 although Lithuania closed out the opening period more strongly to move into a 22-17 lead.
Minutes later they had extended their advantage to 27-18 and thigns were already looking ominous for the visitors.
However, the Azzurre rattled off thirteen of the next fifteen points and a Kathrin Ress' score gave them something of a surprise lead. They were still in front at the interval at 41-38 thanks to 13 points from Alexander who was matching the strength of Lithuania inside.
The home team really came out strongly at the start of the second half and surged into a 56-47 advantage off the back of a powerful 18-6 burst and with Italy unable to make an impression it looked ominous heading into the last quarter.
However, there was a real twist in the tail as Italy launched their hugely impressive fight back to secure a fantastic road win.
Sandra Linkeviciene finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists for the losing team while for Italy there were no more precious points than those three scored in crunch time by Franchini.
Algirdas Paulauskas, Lithuania head coach:
"We made many experiments in the beggining. Later we started playing more seriously, looked like everything is going OK, but it wasn't enough. We had to kill the game when we were in control, but didn't manage to do that and lost in the very end."
Agne Abromaite, Lithuania forward:
"We felt tiredness already, we knew it was a last game and we are already qualified for the EuroBasket Women, so maybe there was some relaxing in our game. In the beggining we didn't play well in defence."
Giampiero Ticchi, Italy head coach:
"It was like a last game for us, so it was very important to win. We knew that Lithuania is a very good team, we also knew that the Lithuanian team can suffer from our defence when we play aggresive. Today they played better, with more aggresivness than in Italy. We played intensively, with big rotation and it helped to win this game in the end."