By Jared Grellet
|Slobodan Jovanovic and Serbia claimed the bronze medals with the win over Italy|
Turning Point: Italy came back to be within six points halfway through the second quarter but the Serbs struck back, hitting back-to-back three pointers, dealing a serious blow to the Italian morale.
Game Hero: Ilija Dokovic. The Serbian guard's stats have not always reflected how important he has been to his team in Lithuania but finally, the numbers matched up as he finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia played much better as a team, providing 19 assists compared to Italy's six.
Serbia have put their semi-final heartbreak behind them, defeating Italy 83-69 on Sunday evening to claim bronze at the Dadu U16 European Championship.
It was the Serbs who lifted themselves the best following the heartbreak both teams experienced on Saturday, developing an early lead that only temporarily came under threat midway through the second quarter against an Italian team that never really got going in the absence of their leading scorer Pierfrancesco Oliva.
Playing in the semi-final with an ankle injury that was incurred a day previous in the quarter-finals, Italy's coaches evidently opted not to risk playing Oliva again in the battle for the minor medal.
Accuracy was a big problem for Italy in the opening stanza, with just two of their 11 shots from the field on the mark as they instead relied on frequent trips to the free-throw line to stay in touch with Serbia.
Antonio Bocchino's troops came back within six points midway through the second quarter but Serbia duly responded, hitting back-to-back threes to open the gap back up to 11 points and force Italy to call a timeout. Serbia hit three of their four three-point attempts in the frame.
The timeout failed to effect change for Italy who did not score again in the half as Serbia extended their lead to 15 points.
The Azzurrini were more competitive in the third quarter but it failed to bring any change to the points difference as Serbia maintained a comfortable 17-point advantage going into the last 10 minutes.
There was the slightest of hints of an Italian comeback in the final quarter in the face of some Serbian complacency. When Alberto Navarini got fouled driving the lane with 4:19 left to play, he followed it up by making his free-throw to briefly have the deficit back to eight points.
However, a Serbian timeout settled their nerves and disaster was averted with Italy unable to further bridge the gap.