David Reginald Coornooh tallied 20 points in helping Italy hold off a spirited Estonia 65-60 in opening day action in Group B of the U18 European Championship for Men.
Andrea De Nicolao and Pasquale Paolisso combined for four free throws in the final 1:12 to secure the victory for Alessandro Ramagli's side in Pyrgos.
Paolisso collected 11 points and nine rebounds while De Nicolao added 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six stealss as Italy out-rebounded Estonia 52-30.
The Estonians, who made just 16-of-28 foul shots, were led by Rain Veideman wiht 19 points while Janar Soo added 15 and Kristjan Kitsing had 13.
Italy used some hot early shooting by Coornooh to grab a seven-point lead in the first quarter, which ended with the Italians ahead 17-14. And the advantage was 22-14 on a dunk by Luca Campani. But Kitsing spurred a 9-0 Estonia run to take a 23-22 lead. The game went back and forth with Italy up 32-30 at the break.
Ramagli's Italians never surrendered the lead in the third period, pushing it to 46-39 on Paolisso's foul shots. The Estonians refused to give up and Soo knocked down a three-pointer and made a lay-up to cut the deficit to 46-45. Italy answered with a 12-3 run for their biggest lead of the game - 58-48. Soo's break-away lay-up made it 61-58 but Italy kept their nerves from the foul stripe.
Croatia Cruise Past Latvia
Croatia proved well too much for Latvia opening up their U18 European Championship for Men with a comfortable 87-70 victory in Group D.
Mario Delas paced the Croatians with 24 points and nine rebounds while three other players scored in double digits with Tomislav Zubcic adding nine points and 10 rebounds.
Leon Radosevic hit for 15 points, Ivan Batur had 13 and Toni Prostran chipped in 12 points for the Croatians in Amaliada.
The Latvians were led by 13 points each from Lauris Blaus and Martins Laksa.
Latvia found the better start to the game with a 16-9 lead. But Croatia showed their class with Batur knocking down two triples to begin a 26-6 surge spanning the first two quarters to build a 13-point lead in the second period. And the Croatians were ahead 43-36 at the break.
The Latvians trailed 45-41 early in the third when Croatia went on a 9-0 run to regain a 13-point advantage. The lead was still 64-53 after three periods before Vladimir Vanjak's Croatians scored the first seven points of the fourth for an 18 point lead. They continued to build on their lead, pushing it to 83-59 on Delas's three-point play with four minutes to play.