Italy Overcome 22-Point Deficit, Top Latvia

19.06.2009

Italy fought back from a 22-point deficit late in the first half to knock off 2009 EuroBasket Women hosts Latvia 68-66 in overtime and book their spot in the fifth place game.

Laura Macchi and Rafaella Masciadri combined for 38 points to lead the way for Giampiero Ticchi's team, which will face off against Greece for fifth place for a spot in the 2010 FIBA World Championship Women and the 2011 EuroBasket Women.

Macchi collected 20 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals while Masciadri added 18 points and seven rebounds for Italy, which trailed 39-17 with two minutes left in the first half.

"It was a pride game after the first half. I was trying to let the team understand everything we did here. And that this game would destroy everything we did," said Ticchi, whose team held Latvia to 24 percent shooting after the first period.

"We were tired. Yesterday we finished very, very late. We did not have the same power today. And that's the reason we could not play like we started the whole time," said Latvian coach Ainars Zvirgzdins, whose team will face Slovakia in the seventh place game.

"The Italian team played very aggressive defense. It was hard for us to get an open shot. And that was the result."

Zvirgzdins announced after the game that he will step down as Latvia national team coach following Saturday's seventh place game.

"The team lost twice in a row. And it's my fault. I recognise that," said the coach.

Gunta Basko led Latvia with 22 points while Zane Tamane added 13 points and Anete Jakobsone-Zogota was held to 12 points - more than 10 points below her average.

Latvia hit their first six shots from the field and eight of nine in opening a 16-5 early lead. Basko's triple made it a 14-point game before Italy showed some fight in cutting it to 19-9. But Latvia pushed the lead grew to 25-10 lead after one period.

Ticchi's team went scoreless the first five minutes of the second quarter. But Latvia hit just one basket in the same period but then pushed the advantage to 22 points on Basko's three-ball to make it 34-12. And it was 39-17 with two minutes left in the first half.

Italy's offense picked up a little as Maria Franchini knocked down a three-pointer and converted a three-point play and Masciadri's triple cut the margin to 39-23 at half-time.

Italy began chipping away at the lead with Marte Alexander playing a crucial role, scoring seven of her points in a 14-4 run to cut the margin to 47-37.

Macchi drained a jumper and Katherin Ress made two foul shots to cut the gap to 50-41 after three quarters.

The Latvian advantage was still 12 points, 53-41 after Aija Brumiermane's foul shot with 7:19 to play.

But Roberta Meneghel hit a three-pointer - her first basket of the tournament - and Macchi followed suit with a long ball of her own to start a 14-1 run which gave Italy the lead 55-54 with 2:27 left.

Latvia went back ahead 57-55 before Masciadri drained a triple and Macchi hit a tough driving layup for a 60-59 lead with 31 ticks left.

Basko's nailed a huge triple with 16 seconds. But Latvia sent Mariangela Cirone to the foul line and hit both free throws to knot the game with 12 seconds left.

And Jekabsone's jumper was off target at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

In the extra session, Jekabsone set up an easy lay-up for Tamane and hit her own lay-up to make it 66-64.

Simona Ballardini tied the game with two foul shots before Anda Eibele missed her second and third three-point attempts in overtime for Latvia. Macchi hit a tough driving lay-up with 13 seconds and Latvia could not get a shot off at the buzzer to try and knot the game.


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