The fourth semi-finalist of the 2011 Fiba Europe U20 European Championship for Women is Serbia who were almost beaten in the end by Italy but survived (60-55).
The match itself was not a classic. Italy's problems started before the match took off with Federica Nannucci's hurting ankle. Although not 100 percent fit she played and almost drove her team to victory.
Alessandra Tava was so well guarded that she also became a non factor in the game and due to foul problems had to spent a long time on the bench and was not able to defend at the end.
Serbia were too tall and with Marina Markovic in no mood to lose, they always had the edge. Krnjiic did what she had to do and Tijana Ajdukovic was a pillar in defense.
Home court advantage also played a big part in the win as the home supporters spurred them on.
Serbia, the hosts are in the semi-final
The third semi-final was a rather technical start to the game from both teams with Italy getting first on the score sheet through Federica Tognalini. But the hosts were soon in front with a Milana Zivadinovic three ball.
Federica Nannucci who had rolled her ankle in the last group game for Italy started the game but was struggling with the pace and soon had to return to the bench and was replaced by Tayara Madonna.
The Serbian players were not allowing Alessandra Tava a free ride as they opened up an early lead (13-8) after a split pair by Sara Krnjic and a big three by Jelena Prvulovic.
Italy were having problems getting past Tijana Ajdukovic in defense and trailed (13-17) at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter lacked the urgency of the first quarter. Serbia appeared to be cruising as they dominated the first five minutes and led by as many as 11 points (28-17).
However Italy were able to reduce the deficit with Valeria De Pretto (right shooting the ball) and Virginia Galbiati coming off the bench and making big contributions offensively in an 8-0 run to make it a two-point game (26-28).
Serbia weathered the storm and just allowed Italy one free throw for the remaining two minutes while scoring 4 points themselves to go into the locker room ahead (32-27).
The Italians huffed and puffed while the Serbians just passed the ball and passed it inside for the big players to score as they stretched the advantage (45-34) with 3:34 to play after 2 points by Krnjic.
Italy decided to bring back Nannucci to see if she could find a solution because Tava was on the bench with 5 fouls.
Her presence settled her team as they managed to trade baskets for the remaining time in the quarter (38-49).
Nannucci fired in a three ball to start the final quarter. Italy started to win the offensive rebounds but the ball just would not drop.
Serbia's physical approach kept them in front despite becoming a little careless in their finishing. With three minutes left to play they led by just 4 points (52-48).
Italy threw everything into the battle but were getting tired and with 100 seconds to play Marina Markovic from Serbia hit a big three. The ball bounced on the rim twice before dropping.
The remaining time was spent with time-outs and free throws as Italy almost made a remarkable comeback.
Tognalini had no choice but to take a three-point attempt with four seconds to play to tie the game but her effort fell well short and the chance was gone.
Serbia took the ball up the other end to score and qualify for the FIBA Europe 2011 U20 European Championship (60-55).
Serbia: Snezana Colic 9 (4 assists), Kaja Stankovic 1, Marina Markovic 14, Ivana Grbic 0, Milana Zivadinovic 3, Jelena Prvulovic 5, Dijana Stancic 0, Nikolina Nikolic 4, Maja Vucurovic 2, Sara Krnjic 12 (9 rebounds), Tina Jovanovic DNP, Tijana Ajdukovic 10 (9 rebounds)
Italy : Giulia Leva 2, Federica Nannucci 9, Virginia Galbiati 3, Tayara Madonna 4, Laura Spreafico 2, Elena Bestagno 5 (3 assists), Valeria De Pretto 6, Alessandra Tava 9 (7 rebounds), Federica Tognalini 15 (7 rebounds), Irene Cigliani DNP, Alessandra Pastorino DNP, Giulia Rulli 0
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