Italy Defeat Czechs


Italy showed that 24 hours is a long time in basketball as they bounced back from a humiliating defeat against Lithuania to hammer the Czech Republic in the ACI Trading Ltd U20 European Championship Men.

Marco Belinelli, their sensational 1.96m guard from Lega A champions Climamio Bologna, poured in 16 points to lead the Azzurri to a 73-52 Group B triumph.

The game got away from the Czech Republic during a four-minute stretch in the second quarter.

Ron Frantisek's Czechs led 20-17 but then fell victim to an 11-0 run by the Italians, sparked by a Belinelli tap-in and two free throws.

Michele Antonutti then buried a three-pointer for a 24-20 advantage, and after a Luca Castelluccia jump shot, Antonutti capped the surge with a ferocious dunk for a 28-20 lead for Italy.

The closest the Czechs would get the rest of the way was five points when Pavel Pumprla slam-dunked three minutes into the third quarter.

Italy responded immediately with Luca Lechthaler sinking two free throws and Antonutti, who had 15 points in the game, burying a jump shot for a 36-27 advantage.

Coach Fabrizio Frates' Italians then marched to victory.

Italy, destroyed by Lithuania 109-77 on Friday, face Belarus on Sunday.

The Czechs look to be heading for a third consecutive defeat as they take on take on the mighty Lithuanians who defeated Belarus on Saturday, 93-49.

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