Italy, the reigning champions, had a rough start at the Global Vision U18 European Championship Women, losing 64-53 in their first game in Group C against the mighty Serbia.
Only three players from last year's winning team were returning for Italy while the Serbia young guns from the 2010 U16 European Championship Women, where they finished fourth, have grown up and showed a lot of talent.
Italy paid the price for a slow start, scoring only eight points in the first quarter and receiving 17.
After a balanced second part, Serbia pushed the pedal again and took a commanding lead before the last period, 49-34. Italy came back within single digits with 4:23 to the end, behind a layup by Caterina Dotto.
But Serbia didn't make any big mistakes and secured an important victory at the debut.
Natasa Kovacevic led all scorers with 17 points and completed her own show with 10 rebounds and three assists.
The Serbian players crashed the boards with a total of 55 rebounds against only 34 from the Italian side. Kristina Topuzovic was one point shy from a double-double, with 9 points and 14 rebounds and Ivana Brajkovic finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Erica Reggiani posted 14 points for Italy and the Dotto twins, Francesca and Caterina, combined for 20 points, 13 rebounds and four steals.