Referees: Seffi Shemmesh (ISR), Lahdo Sharro (SWE), Oskars Lucis (LAT)
Alive And Kicking
Italy proved 48 hours is a long time in basketball by bouncing back from a heavy defeat to Spain and trouncing Serbia 64-43 in Ortona.
Playing with a sense of urgency from the opening tip, the Azzurre defense harassed the Serbian guards who had torn apart Russia on Saturday while Kathrin Ress led a terrific effort inside.
Serbia missed all eight of their shots from long range in the first half and Italy, who had a
Ress led the inside attack for Italy with 10 points and four boards.
hard time taking care of the ball against Spain, turned it over just twice.
The Italians, who led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, led 31-20 at half-time and Gianni Lambruschi's team used the great start as a launchpad for victory.
"The main difference today was that we played as a team, we didn't do that in our previous game," said Italian guard Francesca Zara.
"We really need this victory to have a chance to make it to the quarterfinals, that would mean so much for us, for Italian basketball, especially playing here in front of our home fans."
Ress and Laura Macchi scored six points apiece as Italy led 17-12 going into the second quarter.
The Serbians limited Italy to no points over the next four minutes but failed to take advantage.
Federica Ciampoli then buried Italy's first three to spark the Azzurre on a 14-8 run as they led by 11 at the break.
Italy forced Serbia to commit six turnovers at the start of the third quarter as they built a 39-22 lead.
With 4:50 remaing in the third quarter, Miljana Musovic hit Serbia's first three-ball of the game but Giorgia Sottana immediately answered with a three from the right corner.
Serbia went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit 47-37 with eight minutes left to play but the Azzurre hit back with a 9-0 run with Francesca Modesca, scoring four points in that surge, to keep her team in control.
Modesca had a game-high 13 points while the Azzurre had three other players finishing double figures.
Serbia were just two of 21 (9.5%) from long range and were outrebounded 43-31.
"I want to congratulate Italy," said Serbian coach Jovica Antonic. "They played very aggressive today and we couldn't find a way to answer that, we had few options."
Serbia take on France in their last Group F qualifier on Wednesday while Italy meet Belarus.