By Jeff Taylor
Italy go into their clash against Serbia knowing victory is a must to maintain hopes of playing in the quarterfinals at the EuroBasket Women.
The Azzurre, after beating just Greece in their Group C campaign, carried no wins into the qualifying round and their defeat to Spain on Saturday has left them 0-3 in Group F and needing help from others to advance.
Italy’s frontcourt has struggled, particularly Dubravka Dacic, the 1.98m center who scored the first two buckets of the game against Spain and then disappeared.
|Milica Dabovic did it all for Serbia against Russia, including hitting the game winning shot.|
She ended up playing just 11 minutes and against a quick Serbia team, Italy coach Gianni Lambruschi may opt for a smaller unit as he did when taking on Greece in Chieti.
The Serbians are sky high after upsetting European giants Russia.
Milica Dabovic picked a great time to snap out of her funk, pouring in a game-high 28 points and scoring the winning points with less than three seconds remaining with a lay-up in traffic.
In her previous three games, Dabovic had four, eight and zero points on five of 23 (21.7%) shooting from the floor overall.
“We are a team that can turn things around from one day to the next,” Dabovic said.
Hopefully for Serbia, they will not revert to the type of form that saw them crash to a 79-53 defeat just 72 hours before the upset of Russia.
Last Result: Serbia beat Russia 67-65 and Italy lost to Spain, 79-64.
Key Match-up: Dabovic of Serbia v Italy’s Giorgia Sottana. Dabovic was outstanding against Russia and if she can maintain that form, Serbia will be in the hunt for a medal. Sottana has been a spark for Italy off the bench and should get a lot of minutes against the Serbians in what promises to be an up-tempo game.
Key Stat: Serbia had 19 turnovers in their 79-53 defeat to Belarus and just four in their surprise victory over Russia.
X-Factor: Ivana Grubor has quietly enjoyed a solid EuroBasket for Serbia and the 1.84m power forward could have a big game against Italy.
Speaking Out: “Maybe Monday starts another championship. We have to go out there and leave everything on the court, play with passion and emotion. I hope we can win another game before the end of the championship and I think my team playing at home will want to win another game” – Italy coach Gianni Lambruschi