Italy ensured there would be home representation in the second round of the U20 European Championship Women with a 66-52 defeat of Belarus in Udine on Saturday.
Turning Point: Italy had been unable to pull away from Belarus until Marida Orazzo sunk an impressive fall-away jump shot while being fouled and added the extra point from the line in the first minute of the second quarter. This opened the lead up to double digits for the first time at 20-10 and Italy visibly grew in confidence after this.
Game Hero: Francesca Gambarini by no means lit up the scoreboard, tallying six points and two assists, but she did a nice job of pacing Italy's offence and instigating the good ball movement which created a lot of her team's good looks at the basket.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy used their superior speed to rack up 24 fast-break points. Belarus were made to work much harder for their baskets and this took its toll over the course of the 40 minutes.
The Bottom Line: Italy still could have been eliminated from the competition had they lost this game so the fact they were able to come through such a test with some pressure on them will do their belief no harm moving forward. Belarus exit the first round having been well beaten in all three games and their primary objective now must be to avoid dropping into Division B.