U16 WOMEN QUARTER-FINALS Italy thrilled a noisy Sardinia crowd by rolling into the semi-finals of the U16 European Championship for Women with a battling 60-50 victory over Russia.
And the hosts will now bid to make home advantage pay when they take on Belgium on Saturday evening for a place in the tournament final.
On this evidence, they will be no pushovers. A 12-0 start set the tone and although the Russians never gave up, they were never able to dig themselves out of that hole.
Up 34-27 at half-time, Italy accelerated again with an 8-2 burst and although Russia closed to within 8 in the fourth quarter, they could come no closer as the standing ovation began.
"We wanted to be in the last four and qualify for the Under 17 world championships next year," said Cecilia Zandalasini, who had a game-best 23 points.
"I think that's the best we've played so far. I think it was the most important game I've ever played in. And if we play at the same level tomorrow, we have a chance to get to the final."
Yana Degtyarskaya had 17 for Russia.