Italy once again demonstrated its dominance over Serbia by effectively shutting down Serbia’s offensive strategies.
Simone Fontecchio’s outstanding performance, where he scored an impressive 30 points, propelled Italy to a hard-fought 78-76 victory in the opening match of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Second Round Group I.
This victory significantly strengthened Italy’s chances of progressing to the Quarter-Finals.
Despite initially trailing by 16 points, Italy staged a remarkable comeback and now holds a 3-1 record in the Second Round.
This marks their third consecutive victory against Serbia, following previous wins in the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Belgrade Final and the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16.
Prior to these triumphs, Serbia had secured seven consecutive wins against Italy. However, Serbia’s record dropped to 3-1 following this contest.
Italy began the game strongly, sinking several three-pointers and establishing a 10-point lead in the first quarter. However, Serbia swiftly erased this advantage in the early stages of the second quarter.
The remainder of the first half was fiercely competitive. In the third quarter, Serbia managed to take control with an 18-4 run, securing a 60-44 lead.
Italy launched an impressive comeback in the fourth quarter, embarking on a 17-2 run to narrow the deficit to 62-61, with Luigi Datome contributing 10 points in just 90 seconds.
Italy’s momentum continued with an impressive 28-7 run, resulting in a 72-65 lead.
Although Marko Guduric made a three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to bring the score to 76-74, Simone Fontecchio responded with a crucial basket just 33 seconds before the game’s conclusion.
“We played a tough game against an excellent team like Italy,” Serbia coach Svetislav Pesic said. “We were up and down a little. We didn’t control our game, especially where we had a good lead and were in a good rhythm.
“Like always we wanted to win the game. But in the end, we have to win the last game.”
Watch the game highlights between Serbia and Italy in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: