Italy once again proved their dominance over Serbia by slowing down Serbia’s offensive plays and having Simone Fontecchio score an impressive 30 points, securing a 78-76 victory at the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Second Round Group I.
This win greatly enhanced Italy’s chances of making it to the Quarter-Finals.
Italy, despite being 16 points behind initially, managed to turn things around and now holds a 3-1 record in the Second Round.
This victory marks their third consecutive win against Serbia, with previous wins in the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Belgrade Final and FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16.
Prior to these victories, Serbia had won their last seven games against Italy. However, Serbia’s record dropped to 3-1 after this match.
Italy started strong by making several three-pointers and took an early 10-point lead in the first quarter, which was quickly erased by Serbia in the second quarter.
The game remained closely contested for the rest of the first half. In the third quarter, Serbia managed to break away with an 18-4 run, leading 60-44.
Italy fought back with a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter, narrowing the score to 62-61, with Luigi Datome contributing 10 points in just 90 seconds. Italy’s momentum continued with a remarkable 28-7 run, resulting in a 72-65 lead.
Marko Guduric made a three-pointer with 50 seconds left, making it 76-74, but Simone Fontecchio responded with a crucial basket just 33 seconds before the game ended.
“I want to congratulate Serbia because they played really good,” Italy coach Gianmarco Pozzecco said. “We respect all those guys and their basketball. We respect Serbia, really, their basketball and everything.
“And we are proud because of that respect. And I am so proud of my players because they never give up. We were down 16 points and it was not easy, especially against them.”
Watch the game highlights between Serbia and Italy in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: