Highs and lows of youth international basketball in Naples
Italy have become a regular host for youth international basketball events.
They will be hoping that their U16 team will qualify for the FIBA U17 Word Championship Women in 2010.
In 2007 Italy won the U16 European Division B title when they hosted this event in Chieti. Already now they look like contenders for the Division A title in 2009.
They beat Serbia in the last Group A game (64-52) to secure the group title and move into the Qualification Round with maximum points.
The first quarter was exciting with Italy having the upper hand initially by scoring the first 6 points of the match.
However Serbia came back with an 8-0 burst to lead briefly (15-11).
Italy fought back and finished with a 10-4 run to lead (21-19) at the end of the first period.
The second quarter was end to end basketball.
It was exciting to watch as the two teams traded basket for basket with the guests from Serbia having the better of the exchange to lead (36-34) at the interval.
Neither team slowed down after the break as both sides maintained a high tempo. Yet Italy started to take control with a 7-0 run with four minutes left to play in the third quarter to go further ahead (43-38).
Serbia were for the first time in trouble and Italy took full advantage. They went into the final period leading (48-41).
In the last quarter Serbia lost their way completely and were unable to deal with the zone defense of Italy.
Italy were noticeably tiring but still found energy to put one last run together to break the Serbian resistance (60-45) with four minutes left to play.
Italy went on to win (64-52) with Stella Panella (left) leading the way with 15 points.