Italy's Easy Win over Finland Takes Them to the European Championships

06 April 2004
Karlo Dzeverlija, KK

To place in the championships Italy needed a win over Finland. The 'Azzuri' did more than 'just win'.

Finland managed to land 15 points in the first five minutes with the tense Italians. It was then that coach Gaetano Gebbia called a time-out which proved critical to the game. The new strategy set the stage for a series of 16:3 by the Italians, after which the Fins were unable to gain victory.

That advantage gave Italy the chance to reach a comfortable +8 lead by half time. The trend continued, at one point Finland was 'frozen' by being down -34. After the 40 minute mark, the final buzzer sounded at 84:52 (20:18, 38:29, 66:43).

Since a tired and reserved Marco Belinelli sat out the whole third quarter, the role of Italy's top point getter went to Luca Lechthaler. The Italian captain gave 22 points. Luca Vitali marked 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Belinelli managed 14 (2/9 three pointers, 4/16 total shots).

Finland was led by Jari Vanttaja with 15 baskets and 10 rebounds.

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