|First round duty done: Ziga Dimec and Slovenia qualified for the second round|
Slovenia overturned a 13-point third quarter deficit to edge out Italy 65-61 in a very physical clash on Friday and punch their ticket to the Second Round from Sportland U20 European Championship Group D.
The previously unbeaten Italy missed their chance to secure qualification early, but will still go through if they defeat Estonia in their last game, regardless of the result of the encounter between the hosts and the Czech Republic later on Friday.
Italy bombarded their opponents from down-town early on to lead 36-29 at the half-time interval and then extended the gap to 47-34 midway through the third frame.
Slovenia called a time-out and upon return to the floor, Ziga Dimec was assisted by fellow big man Tomaz Bolcina under the Italian basket to cut the deficit to 11 points and spark a 16-2 run that saw his team going ahead, 50-49, within less than six minutes.
The shell-shocked Italians continued to shoot from three-point range although by now their accuracy had long abandoned them and only managed to tie the scores momentarily, with 5:05 still left in the game.
Miha Lapornik sunk two free-throws to give the Slovenians their biggest lead of the game, 63-58, at the most crucial time, when there was only 13 seconds left to the final buzzer and the same player wrote the final score again from the foul line after Italy hit a three-pointer to reduce to two points.
Dimec carried the winners with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Bolcina also collected a double-double, of 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Lapornik added 12 points and five boards.
Amedeo Della Valle had 13 points for Italy in defeat while Stefano Tonut scored all of his 10 points in the first half.