|Back in an azzurri vest after three years of absence: Aristide Landi|
The U20 Italian national team won over the weekend the 14th edition of the international tournament held in memory of Bepi Meneghin (father of Dino) and Vigilio De Silvestro in the town of Domegge di Cadore, in Italy.
The event served as a warm-up to the Sportland U20 European Championship that starts next week in Estonia not only for hosts Italy, but also for the U20 sides of Ukraine, Georgia and Bulgaria.
In addition to the sentimental value of winning the trophy, Italy coach Pino Sacripanti must have been delighted to see 19-year-old power forward Aristide Landi assuming an important role in the side, three years after his one and only appearance in a national team jersey.
Landi, who plays for historical club Virtus Bologna, was the MVP of the U19 domestic Italian championship in the past two seasons but has been unable to play for the Squadra Azzurra since the U16 European Championship of 2010, where he led the team in points (13.6 per game) and rebounds (7.2 per game).
The hosts outscored Bulgaria 22-9 in the final quarter to prevail 82-69 in the clash between the two sides on the opening day of the tournament, behind 17 points from Landi and 14 points from Marco Laganà and Eric Lombardi, while Tencho Tenchev had 14 points for Bulgaria.
In the other game of the premiere, Georgia defeated Ukraine 63-55. The Georgians competed in the Domegge tournament without power forward Beka Burjanadze, their top scorer in last year's U20 European Championship, and his participation in the big event in Estonia is highly unlikely.
On the second day, Italy started very strong against Georgia to establish a double-digit lead already in the first quarter and cruised to an 82-53 victory.
Laganà led all scorers with 16 points and Matteo Imbró added 13 points for the winners; Giorgi Tsirekidze was the only player to reach double digits for Georgia and finished with 12 points in defeat.
Ukraine meanwhile registered a first victory in the tournament by defeating Bulgaria 84-68 with ease, as they entered the final frame holding a 23-point advantage.
Center Sergiy Zagreba paved the way for Ukraine with a game-high 16 points while Oleksandr Furs and Anatoliy Shundel added 14 points each; forward Aleks Simeonov had 14 points for Bulgaria in a losing effort.
Italy capped off their perfect tournament with a hard-earned 76-71 win over Ukraine on the final day of action.
Ukraine stunned the hosts with an almost flawless start to the game which saw them lead by 15 points at the end of the first quarter and 16 points at the half-time interval.
Italy however outscored their guests 28-8 in the pivotal third frame to turn the tables and held on to their slim lead until the final buzzer.
Bulgaria meanwhile surprised Georgia with their first win in the tournament which came about in impressive fashion as they prevailed 85-54.
The Bulgarians were successful thanks to a balanced offensive display as four players scored in double digits, with Velislav Galabov registering a game-high 15 points.
The Sportland U20 European Championship tips off on Tuesday 9 August in Estonian capital Tallinn.