Basketball, an Italian company: beats Serbia in Belgrade and flies to Tokyo

Basketball, an Italian company: beats Serbia in Belgrade and flies to Tokyo

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Basketball, an Italian company: beats Serbia in Belgrade and flies to Tokyo

Basketball, an Italian company: beats Serbia in Belgrade and flies to Tokyo

The Azzurri win the pre-Olympic tournament and take the pass for the Olympics. The last participation dates back to 2004, when the team won silver in Athens

Italbasket releases the pass for the Tokyo Olympic Games. In the final of the pre-Olympic tournament in Belgrade, the Azzurri accomplished a real feat by beating the hosts of Serbia 102-95. Italy therefore returns to participate in the Olympics, a joy that has been missing since the 2004 edition when the Azzurri won a historic silver medal.

The boys of Meo Sacchetti, in the den of the Balkan wolves, showed off a capital test scoring repeatedly, especially from three points, and fielding a defensive attitude made of great intensity and attention. Serbia, one of the old continent’s basketball battleships, appeared nervous, plaintive and imprecise.

After a first quarter of great intensity, ending with a score of 28-22, Italy changes gear in the next two fractions with the gap between the two teams widening even exceeding 20 points. If the second quarter ends at 57-45 and the start of the recovery to sanction the Italian extension that reaches the maximum advantage at 73-51 before closing the third period ahead of 17 points (80-63).

In the last quarter, the Belgrade arena becomes a pit. Serbian fans make themselves heard by warming up the environment and asking their heroes to try the comeback. The game becomes physical, the fouls multiply, the pressure on the referee trio grows. But Italy is not intimidated and continues to respond, blow for blow, to the baskets and to the provocations of the opponents. And in the end, after much suffering, the final victory, with over 100 points scored. The blue team was led by Nico Mannion, playmaker of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA, Simone Fontecchio, fresh winner of the title in Germany with Alba Berlin and Achille Polonara, new player of Fenerbahce in Istanbul, one of the strongest teams of Europe. All three scored more than 20 points. But all the players called on the parquet by Sacchetti gave their best, from Tonut to Pajola, from Ricci to Melli. One brick after another. In short, the illustrious absences of Gallinari, Belinelli and Datome were not heard. Italbasket plays an incredible game and with merit transforms into reality what until yesterday was only an Olympic dream. The debut will be on July 25 with Germany but, at least today, it is legitimate to think only of this fantastic feat.

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