The Azzurri closed 90-83, recovering in the second half dragged by Polonara, Mannion and Fontecchio. On Saturday in the semifinal one between the Philippines and the Dominican Republic
by our correspondent Vincenzo Di Schiavi
– BELGRADE (Serbia)
He does not betray the new Italy of Meo Sacchetti in the debut of the Pre-Olympic in Belgrade which is giving away the last ticket to Tokyo. Puerto Rico goes down in the second half, beaten 90-83, when the Azzurri defend as they should and then follow the inspired wake of Fontecchio, Mannion and a powerful Polonara, after a first half of enormous worries in which they also slip to -17 . Now Italy awaits the winner of tonight’s match between the Dominican Republic and the Philippines in the semifinals on Saturday. Before the match, the Azzurri had knelt down showing support for the cause of Black Lives Matter.
The first 16 minutes, as mentioned, are of extreme suffering. Puerto Rico has more and always manages to punish the modest blue defense. Only when the Puerto Ricans touch +17 (25-42) does the blue jolt arrive on the Mannion-Tessitori axis. The start is entirely from Trentino Browne, master of the match together with the other guard Gian Clavell. Sosa’s triple stamps +9 at the end of the first siren, when Melli is already on the bench with two fouls and the coach is desperate for a quintet that holds up above all behind. Fontecchio sends signals in attack, but our balance from the arc after 20 minutes is penalizing (5/21). Few find the starting point, while the opponents continue to hammer from everywhere, always finding a free man. The three-point Puerto Rican 7/15 implements the maximum advantage, but behind the Browne gang is very grumpy, finishing in the bonus very soon. The blue ascent begins from the line (12/12 in the first half), with Tessitori giving more balance under the basket, while Mannion is the only one capable of putting pressure on Browne. The -7 of the interval is pure gold, but Sacchetti must also pay for Pajola’s injury (right leg). We start again with Melli and Tex together on the pitch, but the shot comes from the Mannion-Fontecchio duo that brings Italy back to -3 (48-51). Puerto Rico tries to escape again with Browne, but the blues begin to adjust their aim from a distance and defend like never before. This is worth the 16-2 run that turns the match. At the third siren it is 64-58 for the blues. At the beginning of the last quarter Michele Vitali’s triple closes the break of 19-2 which puts our players ahead by 9 (67-58). The triples of Mannion and Ricci seem to cement the result and instead, in an amen, Puerto Rico returns to -2 with the inventions of Gian Clavell (73-71). But Italy is no longer in the mood for gifts. Fontecchio again and then super Polonara. This time it’s over.
Italy: Polonara 21, Mannion 21, Fontecchio 21
Puerto Rico: Clawell 24, Browne 16, Andujar 11
1 July – 18:42
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