Serbia took care of a tough Italian team, 68-48, to go to 2-0 in Group B.
Serbia never trailed in the contest that they won, above all, on the defensive end and on the glass. They held Italy to under 30% shooting from the field and out-rebounded them 55-31.
Serbia's aggressiveness also got them to the line 38 times where they racked up 29 easy points compared to the Italians eight points from ten trips.
Nina Bogicevic fueled Serbia with her attacking play which she turned into a game-high 18 points. But the most impressive stat for the guard were her 10 rebounds, five of them coming off the offensive glass.
As always, Sonja Petrovic showed she is the leader of the team. Despite not having her best shooting day (going 3-of-11 for 12 points) she stepped up when her team's offense stagnated in the opening minutes of the first and second halves.
"Everyone is saying that we are one of the favourites, but I don't think so," said Petrovic, who also had ten rebounds.
"We have a young team with many new players so we are very satisfied with these two wins."
"I am happy, not with the wins, but because of how we played."
Serbia put the strangle hold on Italy in the first quarter, only giving up two baskets by contesting almost every one of the Italians' fifteen field goal attempts.
On the offensive end Petar Markovic's squad started slow, but then Sonja Petrovic's six points and Jefimija Karakaseic's (8 points) two old-fashioned three-point plays got them rolling.
Petrovic gave Serbia an eleven-point lead on a three pointer from the top of the arc with the 24-shot clock winding down (13-2). Her team closed out the quarter with a 18-5 lead.
Italy's attack was a group effort, with eleven players scoring. Martina Picotti came off the bench to get a team-high 9 points before fouling out.
|Daniela Peteva led Bulgaria to a crucial victory|
Italy was able to finally get on track in the second quarter, but Serbia maintained its double-digit advantage largely thanks to Bogicevic's 11 points in the quarter.
Serbia went into the break up 36-20.
After halftime Italy came out with more intensity on the defensive end and managed to limit Serbia to just four points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Even so, they could never get the lead below 12 and didn't take advantage off the opportunities given to them, guard Erika Striuli missing two chippies at the rim.
When Petrovic scored four points in a row (two free throws and a coast-to-coast lay-up of a steal), Italy still went into the fourth facing a 15-point deficit (47-32).
A Jelena Jovanovic (5 points) lay-up put Serbia ahead by 20 points (59-39) with five to go and ended any thoughts of an Italian comeback.
Serbia will play winless Montenegro tomorrow while Italy takes on the 1-1 Bulgaria.
Bulgaria Grab Important Win Against Montenegro
Bulgaria got an all-important first win handling Montenegro 67-46 to go 1-1 in Group B and put Rade Petrovic's squad in a 0-2 hole.
"Yes, it was an important win," said head coach Jose Luis Hernandez. "We came here to build Bulgarian basketball for the future."
"We know we are not a strong team that will fight for the top positions, but now we are almost assured of not going down to Division B. So now we can play without that pressure and start a championship for the future."
Bulgaria was led by the trio of Daniela Peteva (20 points), Stefka Miteva (15 points and 15 rebounds) and Hristina Ivanova (18 points) who combined for 53 of their team's points.
Milica Jovanovic scored 14 and Snezana Aleksic added 12 for Montenegro.
A Peteva thee-pointer with under four minutes to go in the contest pushed her team to a twenty-point lead (61-41) and gave her twenty for the game.
The shooting guard was also key in responding to a strong Montenegro challenge at the beginning of the second half.
"We kept our mind in the game. It was very important that we didn't lose control at that moment," said Hernandez.
After Montenegro had cut Bulgaria's lead to just five points on a 7-0 run coming out of halftime, Peteva led the Bulgarian response by scoring seven points in the quarter.
"This was a victory we expected. We feel great," said Peteva.
"This year I worked a lot on my shot, I am a fast player so it is normal I get good shots."
Bulgaria face Italy while Montenegro play Serbia tomorrow.