Debora Dubei came up big for Hungary to help her team clinch bronze
Turning Point: Hungary led by 11 at the end of the first quarter and maintained a double-digit margin throughout the game. With the medal in sight, suddenly the game became tense as Italy mounted one last charge and reduced the advantage to six. Nina Aho made her first free throw and Dorottya Nagy grabbed a huge rebound off the second, working the ball to Virag Weninger to seal the win.
Game Hero: Debora Dubei made a succession of big shots in the third quarter on her way to a game-high 19 points.
Stats Don't Lie: Hungary had six more points off the bench than Italy, and won the game by seven. Italy could not find reliable scoring outside their star players whereas Hungary had more weapons at their disposal.
Hungary survived a late push from Italy to take a 62-55 victory in the bronze medal match at the U16 European Championship Women, claiming their first medal in 37 years.
Timea Toth's three-point play had swelled the lead to 14 with less than three minutes remaining, but eight unanswered points from Italy made the Hungarian team nervous. Nina Aho made one free throw with 35 seconds remaining and Dorottya Nagy rebounded the second, leading to Virag Weninger being fouled and knocking down her two free throws to make the score 61-53, and Hungary were able to hold on.
Hungary had controlled the majority of the game, as early three-pointers from Weninger and Dominika Borondy helped them establish a 10-4 lead. Agnes Studer's shot bounced in before a Borondy steal led to Debora Dubei's jump-shot as the lead grew to 11 by the end of the opening period, with Italy struggling to make any impact inside.
Italy's attempts to gain a foothold in the match were further hampered as leading scorer Francesca Pan picked up her third foul and came out of the game, but Lorela Cubaj was able to cause Hungary some problems, blocking Eniko Kuttor before Rachele Porcu found her on a nice pick-and-roll.
Kuttor came back with a tough offensive rebound in traffic and Weninger converted a three-point play, and Virag Kiss grabbed another offensive board to give her team a 30-17 advantage going into half-time.
Italy made some good shots in the third good quarter, including Mariella Santucci stopping on a dime and making a sweet turnaround jumper. But Dubei came up with the answer each time, swishing a step-back three and a nice baseline jump-shot before her strong drive at the end of the period, which put Hungary 45-30 ahead.
Giulia Ciavarella's three-pointer brought Italy back within 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter as the teams traded blows. Dubei knocked down a jumper from the wing and Toth delivered a great pass to Weninger under the basket, but Santucci swooped in with a great offensive rebound and delivered to Lucrezia Costa, before Toth's tough play put Hungary ahead 58-44.
Italy made one last push, with Pan's three-point play, Santucci's long-distance shot and Pan's big block on Toth helping them close the lead to six. But Hungary closed the game out to spark wild celebrations among their vocal supporters.
Dubei recorded a double-double in the win with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Weninger had 12 points and Nagy added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Pan had 16 points and Santucci 14 points for Italy, who have the consolation prize of qualifying for the 2014 U17 World Championship for Women along with Hungary, finalists Spain and Czech Republic and fifth-placed France.