Italy Prevail in Thriller

27 July 2012

U16 MEN QUARTER-FINALS

By Jared Grellet

Federico Mussini (Italy)
Federico Mussini was the spark plug for Italy with 20 points on 8 for 13 shooting

Turning Point: Trailing by two points with 28 seconds to play, Poland's Filip Pruefer puts up an air-ball inside the paint. Italy rebounds and Poland fouls Federico Mussini. The Italian playmaker makes one-from-two at the charity stripe to give his team a three-point buffer going into the death.

Game Hero: Mussini. The Italian guard came up trumps for Italy, scoring a game-high 20 points, including the all-important free-throw in the final moments.

Stats Don't Lie: Italy picked up 20 points on turnovers compared to Poland's 17. In a tight game, three points was all that was needed for the win.

Italy have scraped into the semi-finals at the Dadu U16 European Championship Men, holding off a dogged Polish team 82-79.

Italy looked to be in control through the opening two-and-a-half quarters, opening up healthy leads on more than one occasion. But Poland refused to be broken, coming back every time to stay in touch up until the final buzzer.

Following an opening quarter in which the honours were evenly spread, Italy's first break came early in the second frame as Mussini picked up a rapid-fire seven points, giving Italy an eight point buffer.

Poladn head coach Arkadiusz Miloszewski then looked to unsettle Italy's rhythm, employing three small men to up the tempo of the game. The ploy worked and when half-time arrived the Poles were back within two.

Similar to the second frame, Italy broke away once again at the start of the third quarter, running out to a seven point lead. But the dogged Poles refused to shaken, sticking with three guards whose speed in transition allowed for some easy points under the basket to keep them in touch with Antonio Bocchino's team.

Coming down the home stretch and trailing by three points, Italy appeared to have been dealt a major blow when star player Piefrancesco Oliva was assisted limping from the court with a little over two-and-a-half minutes to play.

But Mussini rallied his team, picking up an and-one on a fast-break to tie scores back up. Andrea Spera then picked up an easy two points under the basket from the inbound to put Italy back in front and when Preufer put up an air ball at the other end, Italy were able to control the final stages.

Marek Zywert had a chance to tie the game up on the final play, but was only able to get off an unbalanced three-point attempt that was well off the mark.

Riccardo Rossato assisted Mussini with 19 points whilst Oliva managed a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double prior to limping from the court.

Marek Zywert ended with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists whilst Mateusz Stawiak added 13 off the bench.

 


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