By Jared Grellet
|Lenny Charles-Catherine was phenomenal for France before going down with an ankle injury|
Turning Point: Antonio Bocchino subs Daniel Donzelli out midway through the third quarter with Italy up by 10. With the Italian leading scorer off the court, France fight back to be trailing by two when the frame comes to a close.
Game Hero: Lenny Charles-Catherine. Picked up 16 points off the bench in 16-and-a-half minutes, before leaving the court with an ankle injury late in the third quarter.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy made just two points in the first nine minutes of the final quarter.
France's superior defence has won out again with Les Blues holding off Italy 80-71 to advance to the final of the Dadu U16 European Championship.
Leading by two points going into the final frame, Italy were completely shut down by the French in the last 10 minutes who remained unbreakable, despite late foul troubles and leading scorer Lenny Charles-Catherine playing no part in the deciding period.
Italy were on the back-foot early, allowing the French to begin the game on an 11-0 run, forcing them to play catch up basketball.
Charles-Catherine was damaging off the bench for France, scoring eight points in less than four minutes.
Italy received their second injury scare in as many days when Daniel Donzelli went down injured but he was back on the court in the second quarter, scoring seven points to help Federico Mussini lead the Italian comeback.
Mussini was a standout in Italy's quarter-final win against Poland and after a slow start, began asserting himself on the game as half-time approached.
Mussini and Donzelli continued to deliver at the beginning of the third quarter, combining for 14 points on a 16-2 run that put Italy up by 10 with 5:38 to play in the third quarter.
However, when Antonio Bocchino opted to sub Donzelli out, France came racing back to be within two with over two minutes remaining in the frame.
Even when Charles-Catherine suffered a potential tournament-ending ankle injury late in the third quarter, France did not miss a beat and continued to surge ahead, holding Italy to two points in the first nine minutes of the final frame to ease their way into the final.
Antoine Wallez picked up nine points in the final quarter to end with 20, alongside nine rebounds. Charles-Catherine was the next best of the French with his 16 points.
Mussini scored 22 for Italy whilst Donzelli chipped in 20.