Italy Shatter Hosts' Dreams

13 July 2013

U20 MEN

Matteo Chillo (Italy)
Matteo Chillo has the better of three Estonians in this scene. The big man contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds to Italy's success

Italy scored 53 first-half points and led Estonia from start to finish on Saturday to claim a 90-78 win and deny the hosts and the 3,000-strong local crowd their dream of advancing to the Second Round at the Sportland U20 European Championship.

The Azzurri finished in second place in Group D, behind France, while Slovenia took the third ticket to the next phase from this pool.

Despite the fact they were playing without injured shooting guard Marco Laganà, who will return to action later in the tournament, a red-hot Italy imposed a frenetic pace in the first half of Saturday's deciding encounter.

The Italians scored the first seven points in the game and drilled eight of their first 17 three-pointers and 10 of their 16 shots from two-point range during the opening two quarters to arrive at the interval with a 53-40 advantage.

Cheered on by the local crowd, Estonia unleashed their attack after the two teams returned from the locker rooms.

Although not as small in size as Italy, they defended their perimeter more efficiently and forced their guests to go 1-for-9 from behind the arc in the third frame.

The fighting hosts came within three points, 62-59, with 1:34 left to play in that period but Matteo Imbró gave Italy some breathing space from the foul line and then the Azurri started off the final frame on a 6-0 run to restore an 11-point lead.

Amedeo Della Valle led all Italy scorers with 20 points, Imbrò scored three of his four triples within a 52-second stretch in the explosive second quarter and finished with 16 points, while Matteo Chillo chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds.

For Estonia, shooting guard Rait-Riivo Laane went 5-for-9 from three-point range and finished with a game-high 24 points, adding five assists in a losing effort.


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