|Martina Kacerik and Italy were fortunate for a big fourth quarter to propel them to victory|
A commanding 21-point performance by the highly rated Cecilia Zandalisini and a red-hot final quarter propelled Italy to an opening day 66-44 win against the Slovak Republic at the U18 European Championship Women.
Italy were on the front foot right from the tip-off and opened up a 16-10 lead, but Slovak Republic enjoyed some nice play during the middle two quarters, led by Teresa Palenikova and Eva Filickova, who each finished with 14 points.
It meant the result and prospect of a win for both teams was still up for grabs entering the final 10 minutes of action, but Italy then exploded and outscored their opponents by 24-6 to take the victory.
The headline contribution of Zandalasini was supplemented by an excellent 14 points and 11 rebounds from Elisa Ercoli.
Filickova completed a double-double for Slovak Republic by hauling down 11 rebounds.