Latvia Blow Chance As Italy Escape

Italy reached the quarter-finals of the U18 European Championship Men with an 85-83 overtime victory over Latvia to claim fourth place in the Qualifying Round Group F.

Matteo Chillo scored 21 points while Francesco Vecchia had 15 points, Mattia Magrini hit for 14 points and Amedeo Della Valle tallied 11 points before being stretchered off the court with an injury. Italy improved to 2-3.

Ojars Silins paced Latvia, who dropped to 0-5 in the group, with 16 points. Janis Berzins scored 15 points while Oskars Reinfelds hit for 12 points and Rihards  Ginters and Andrejs Grazulis each scored 10 points.

The first quarter was a tight affair with neither team leading by more than five points - Latvia ahead 22-17. But Italy led 23-22 after one quarter.

Latvia trailed 31-27 when they went on a 17-1 surge to open a 44-33 lead. The advantage was 44-35 at halftime.

Knowing that only a victory by 25 points or more would be enough to advance to the final eight, the Latvians continued to increase their advantage, which after a 9-2 run was 58-40 with 2:56 left in the third quarter. But Italy trailed only 60-49 after three periods.

Italy scored 11 straight points and then nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 63-63. Vecchia's trey gave Italy a 77-74 lead with 23 seconds left but was matched by Silins's triple with 11 seconds remaining. And Diego Monaldi missed a layup at the buzzer to force overtime.

Leading 85-83 with 22 seconds left, Vecchia missed two foul shots but Chillo grabbed the offensive rebound. Vecchia missed two more free throws with 11 seconds remaining. But Reinfelds missed his attempt to tie the game at the buzzer.


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