EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015 2nd QR
|Ana Oliveira nailed three three-pointers, including the eventual game-winner|
They may have been viewed as underdogs prior to the start of the EuroBasket Women 2015 2nd Qualification Round but Portugal showed they can be contenders after stunning Italy with a nail-biting 54-52 home success.
While Italy arrived as favourites having reached the quarter-finals of EuroBasket Women in France last summer, they were quickly under pressure after the hosts jumped out into a 16-5 lead after a basket by Sofia Da Silva.
Relying on swarming defence and their speed, Portugal made life difficult for Roberto Ricchini and his players until Italy began to finally make an impact as they turned the tables on the home side during the second period.
Finishing the opening ten minutes with a triple from Giorgia Sottana, Italy suddenly had some momentum to make use of and they did so comprehensively, by outscoring Portugal 18-8 to lead by two points at half-time.
To maintain the pattern of an absorbing clash, Portugal then seized the initiative once again and suffocated the Italian offence and restricted them to just seven points in the third quarter.
Having built a commanding 51-42 lead and with just over three minutes left to play, the wheels came crashing off for Portugal as Italy put up ten successive points without reply as Raffaella Masciadri nailed a three-ball.
But rather than folding, Portugal showed the mental strength to bounce back one last time as Italy failed to score during the last two minutes.
It was left to 15-point Ana Oliveira to hit what ultimately proved to be the winning basket with a downtown score.
Nobody reached double-digits for Italy, although Sottana had eight points and seven assists.