Italy rode the scoring outburst of their captain, Martina Crippa, to an easy (79-56) victory over Bulgaria to enter the Qualifying Round with an 1-1 record.
Crippa notched 11 of her 29 total points in what turned out to be a decisive first quarter.
"Martina is the captain of this team. She is the player with the most minutes and most experience for us. I am very happy for her great game," said coach Nino Molino.
Italy won by doing the simplest of things- protecting the ball. They only committed three turnovers in the first half when they built their lead that proved insurmountable.
"I prefer to use just two play-makers and to pressure full court," said coach Molino.
And that pressure paid big dividends causing the Bulgarians to cough the ball up 20 times.
|Snezana Aleksic's 38 points were not enough for Montenegro|
Bulgaria had five players with more than eight points each. Daniela Peteva led them all with 11.
A jumper by Hristina Ivanova (9 points) gave Bulgaria an early one-point lead (8-7) with 5:32 on the clock in the first.
Italy answered by going on a 16-4 run for the remainder of the quarter and went into the second up 23-12.
A jumper by Martina Picotti that rattled in as the buzzer sounded sent Italy into halftime enjoying a 45-29 advantage.
Crippa extended the Italians' lead to 21 points (64-43) by swishing a floater with over a minute to play in the third.
And that was all she wrote.
Serbia win Balkan derby
Snezana Aleksic might have one her scoring battle with Sonja Petrovic, but her Montenegro lost the game to Serbia 89-83.
With Serbia already heading into the Qualifying Round with a 2-0 record and Montenegro destined for the Relegation Round, the game became a shoot-out between the team's two stars.
Serbia's Petrovic netted 20 of her team's 49 points by halftime while Aleksic racked up 19 of Montenegro's 39 by the midway point.
Petrovic would finish with 33 points to go with 11 rebounds and two assists while her opponent scored a tournament-high 38 points.
Serbia's star small forward got some big help from Ana Dabovic who had a tournament-high eleven assists to go with 20 points.
Serbia got out early and led 25-18 at the end of a high-scoring first quarter.Montenegro trailed the entire game although they made several challenges to keep the game close to the very end.