U20 European Championship
The first pair in the Semi-Finals is set after Italy downed Montenegro 78-67 in the second Quarter-Final of the day, and showed most of all great mental strength.
Italy will take on their neighbours France in the big game tomorrow as the teams will fight for a spot in the title game on Sunday night.
Montenegro put up a great fight and showed great character but didn't match-up with Italy for most of the game.
They will take on Germany in the 5-8 Classification Round tomorrow.
Alessandro Gentile collected 27 points, most of them in the first half, and got a big helping hand from Nicolo Melli with 23 points in 58.3% from the floor next to 11 rebounds, while Riccardo Moraschini added 10 points.
Bojan Dubljevic finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds but went scoreless in the first 17 minutes of the game when Italy was dominating everything. Miroslav Damjanovic added 11 points and Radosav Spasojevic finished with 10.
Italy stormed the floor from the start and already reached a 19-point gap at the buzzer of the first quarter, when Montenegro scored only six points, yet the Balkan team doesn't break easily.
Montenegro grabbed more rebounds on offense than defense and finished with 25 after collecting just seven in the first half.
With 20 second chance points in the second half they managed to climb back to the game, just like they have done already in Bilbao.
After coming back from minus 18 in the debut game of the championship, Montenegro once again showed they can come back from behind and even managed to take a one point lead in the closing quarter, but a great finish by Italy, that recovered quickly from the Montenegrin lead, made sure that would stay the only lead of Montenegro in the entire game.
Italy started as a cannonball and scored the first eight points in the game before Milutin Dukanovic, with a left side lay-up, put Montenegro on the board.
Five Italian players were on the board in less than seven minutes and a hook shot by Riccardo Cervi wrote an 18-4 score.
Gentile released his classic fade away three-pointer to reach a total of 11 points in the first nine minutes, and give Italy a 25-6 lead at the first stop.
Nikola Ivanovic, who made his second foul already in the first quarter, stayed on the court and with a left-side drive kept Montenegro going, but Italy saw a soft defense at the other end and attacked to take a 29-14 lead after 13 minutes.
Todorovic connected a few good plays and brought Montenegro a bit closer, 33-21, but Gentile with his first points in the second quarter hit another three-pointer to keep Italy relaxed, and up by 15.
Dubljevic finally woke up and following his first points in the game, in the 17th minute, added three more and made it just 36-27 and Montenegro was back in the game, down by just 10 points at the half, 39-29.
Damjanovic hit a three pointer to start the second half and after two offensive rebounds it was Spasojevic to hit the mid-range jumper and make it just a five point game with a big momentum.
Italy continued to struggle to make points in the paint and allowed Spasojevic to complete a 3-15 run with a mid-range jumper.
Michele Vitali with a dunk pushed the gap back to seven, and Melli with good defense and a pair from foul line brought Italy back to a nine point gap, 47-38 inside the last four minutes of the third.
Yet Montenegro weren't going to stay passive as Ivanovic with a slash and Todorovic with a fix forced a time out by Italy now up by just two points.
Gentile returned from the talk with a three point play to reach 20 points right before the third quarter ends, yet a big fix by Halil Kanacevic set the score on 50-47 with just one more period to play.
Montenegro continued to dominate the offensive board, which allowed Dukanovic to hit a three pointer and put Montenegro up for the first time in the game, 50-51 yet Italy answered quickly and with three buckets by three players now forced Montenegro to call a time out down 57-51 with 6:42 to play.
Moraschini added another pair for the run, but Montenegro used the offensive board to score four in a row and make it a close game once again, yet a loose ball fixed by Andrea De Nicolao left Montenegro nine points behind inside the last three minutes.
A corner three-pointer by Damjanovic cut the margin to just five with two minutes to play, but Gentile was quick to reply with the same coin and Melli added another long range hit, a steal and drew the fifth foul from Ivanovic to send Italy to the Semi-Finals.