Finland Finally Win Against Italy

20 August 2009

Finland ended their hoodoo against Italy on Thursday by beating the Azzurri in the last Group B game of the EuroBasket Additional Qualifying Round.

After suffering three defeats to the Italians - two in Group A of the Division A campaign and then again in Vantaa in the AQR on August 11, Henrik Dettmann's Finns prevailed in Porto San Giorgio, 95-89.

Both sides had already been eliminated from contention for a place in the EuroBasket.

Finland claimed second place behind Group B winners France (3-1) with a 2-2 record while Italy ended up third at 1-3.

Petteri Koponen had 26 points for the Finns, while Marco Belinelli scored the same amount for Italy.

Had Finland won their encounter with the Italians nine days ago, they would have stayed in contention for a place in the EuroBasket but Dettmann's team missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and lost to drop to 0-2.

Since that time, they have beaten France and now the Italians.

Finland took the lead for good when Samuel Haanpää hit a three-pointer with three minutes to go in the third quarter to make it 68-65.

They went in front by nine in the fourth quarter and appeared to be closing in on victory with 2:32 to go when Tuukka Kotti's jump shot gave them an 88-81 lead.

Giuseppe Poeta made two free-throws and a three-pointer to close the gap to 88-86 with 1:30 remaining, but Koponen settled the visitors' nerves with one of his five three-pointers on the night and Finland went on to secure a 95-89 win.

Finland were 16 of 31 from three-point range while Italy were 12 of 29.

Teemu Rannikko made four three-balls and ended up with 16 points.

Hanno Mottola also scored 16 points.

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