|Camillo Bianchi added 12 points in the important opening win over Germany|
Italy tipped off their games in the U16 European Championship with a 73-54 victory over Germany at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Thursday afternoon.
Following the game Italy hold a 1-0 record in Group A before meeting Croatia tomorrow while Germany dropped to 0-1 and the following day will meet with Serbia.
"It's always more difficult to play the first game, because you still don't know the other team that well and there's the excitement and everything around it, but we won so I'm very happy," said the Italian coach Gaetano Gebbia.
Italy used a big run in the second quarter to open a gap, that survived a second half come back attempt by Germany, and in the last minutes extended the margin enough to get an important 19 point win.
Francesco Candussi hit the most points for Italy with 18 points and Aristide Landi added 14 points with eight rebounds.
The only player in Germany to cross the double-digits line was Mauricio Marin with 16 points behind four three pointers.
"What caused this loss was small mistakes," commented Germany's coach Harald Stein.
"The problem was that we made too many of small mistakes, and it allowed Italy to get easy points even after we came back to the game in the third quarter."
The first minutes showed better focus on the German side with a 12-21 lead late in the first quarter, but couldn't face the Italian counter-attack.
Candussi and Camillo Bianchi led a 15-0 run that put a difference mask on the game. David Taylor broke the German's drought but Candussi replied with four in a row, and added four more before the half, to write a 41-30 margin after 20 minutes.
Seven minutes inside the second half and Italy's gap already reached 19, 54-35, but now it was time for German to show their strength.
Marin hit eight when his team scored 15 unanswered points to make it just a 54-50 game, but then it was time to Landi.
"What gave us the win was mental toughness which we showed in two moments - first in the early minutes when they had a better start and then late in the third quarter when Germany came back," added Gebbia.
The Italian forward who re-entered the court just before the gap was set on four, stepped up and scored all of his 14 points until the buzzer not only to secure the win for Italy, but also help re-create the 19 point gap.