Sensational feat of the Sacchetti team, which returns to the Olympics after 17 years
– BELGRADE (Serbia)
After 17 years, Italy returns to the Olympics. The Azzurri make the night in Belgrade magical and unforgettable by bending Serbia 102-95 at home, with an unforgettable match. Almost always in front of sometimes dominating, we take back the Games that were missing from Athens 2004.
So we go to Tokyo and the heroes of this great feat are called Mannion, Fontecchio, Pajola and, above all, Achille Polonara (22 points, 12 rebounds). But it is everyone’s success, starting with Captain Melli, the moral guide of a rejuvenated group that, as Sacchetti predicted, “is not afraid of anything”. And this is also the triumph of the coach who four years ago had initiated a generational change, now culminating in the most beautiful success.
At the start Italy perfect behind and in the offensive choices: the penetrations of Mannion, the jumps of Fontecchio and the triple of Polonara push us to +9 (16-7). Kokoskov throws in Teodosic and Micic, the idol of Pionir: the 8-0 counter-break flows immediately, but the Azzurri do not lose the offensive thread of the match. Mannion and a very inspired Tonut give us a new reach (+8). Serbia struggles to contain our penetrations and at 10 ‘it is 28-22 Italy. The hosts resurface with the second lines. Andjusic’s first 5 minutes are spatial: 10 points in an amen that is worth the 14-4 with which the Serbs overtake (36-32). The first “crisis” does not affect us. Rather.
From there the blues put in seven triples that send the Serbs into tilt. At half-time we put in 57 points against 45 of the hosts who go to rest astonished. On the return to the field the Serbian nightmare continues: 11-4 of partial blue and +19 (68-49). From the bow we are a sentence (11/22), behind we do not allow easy shots. The Serbs raise their shots in defense a bit, but in front they stick. A triple from Pajola writes +24 (73-49). Incredible.
Mannion signs a new +24, before the usual Andjusic revives Serbia. But at the third siren Italy is ahead 80-63. Kokoskov tries to overturn it with a bonsai quintet, the last quarter becomes a psychological war, but our boys are made of steel. Even the youngest are not intimidated, starting with Fontecchio and Pajola. The last 5 minutes are played with nerves rather than with head. Serbia dates back to -8, but that’s not enough. We go to Tokyo.
Italy: Mannion 24, Polonara 22, Fontecchio 21
Serbia: Andjusic 27, Petrusev 22, Dobric 17
July 4, 2021 (change July 4, 2021 | 22:39)
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