Bulgaria edged Italy 81-80 in a vital EuroBasket qualifying clash on Saturday in Sofia.
Pini Gershon's team won for the third successive time while the Italians slumped to a third setback in four games.
Filip Videnov poured in 21 points, two of them from the free throw line with 1:13 remaining and neither side scored the rest of the way.
Videnov had a remarkable performance, making five of six from three-point range with Bulgaria sinking nine of 22 overall.
The Italians were even more impressive from long range, making 16 of 35 (45.7%).
Italy had moved in front at 80-79 after a three-ball from Massimo Bulleri and a jump shot from Luigi Da Tome with 1:28 remaining.
After Videnov's free throws put Bulgaria in front, Bulleri had two chances to reclaim the lead for the Azzurri but he misfired with jumpers on each.
His second miss, a shot from behind the arc, came with 19 seconds remaining but teammate Valerio Amoroso managed to come up with the rebound.
Bulleri ended up with the ball in his hands again at the end of the game but was off target for a third straight time as the Bulgarians hung on.
Bulgaria did much of their damage at the free throw line, drilling 24 of 34 while the Azzurri were 10 of 14.
Da Tome had 17 points and nine rebounds for Italy.
Bulleri scored 18 points, making five of seven from long range, and Luca Vitali was also four of five from the arc and finished with 12 points.
"The most important thing is that we won. We have to forget the result and to believe that we won against Italy, We started a fairy tale and we should go on dreaming. Everybody in Bulgaria was saying that we have to win this game. They have great players, although they had problems with some players. The Italian team has good players, who play in the Italian championship. I suppose, they would play better, if there was no "Italy" on their shirts. I had to decrease the tension of our players. We tried to do this, but I think we played 20-30% below our level. Italy not only has a good team, but also a good coach. He forced us to change our system and style. There were no balls to Ibbie (Jabeer) and we made a lot of mistakes in the paint. But this is a win with capital "W". We are on a roll these last three weeks. But we have a lot more to do. We gave two tough away games. First we should be thinking about Hungary and Finland, then come Italy and Serbia."
Carlo Recalcati, Italy coach:
"I am sorry that we lost. It may sound strange to you, but I am happy. We lost, but we played well; maybe you didn't watch our previous games. We had a lot of problems and our young players don't have a lot of international experience. We may miss our four big stars but we controlled the game here almost the entire time. I think we lost during the first three-four minutes of the second half. The Bulgarians built a difference of 10 points and we lost our minds. I am fascinated with the Bulgarian players."
Philip Videnov, Bulgaria player:
"It was a tough and not attractive win, but it is a win. I believe our fans are happy. Now we have a great chance. Our self-confidence is going up. We play better than ever. I expected to win with a bigger difference, but we did not play very well in defense. Thank you to our fans, who supported us in a great manner."