European basketball, Italy beat Serbia 94-86. Melli cancels Jokic, now France

European basketball, Italy beat Serbia 94-86.  Melli cancels Jokic, now France

The triples of Spissu and Polonara, the suffocating defense on the NBA ace: for the Azzurri the greatest feat. Pozzecco, first the expulsion and then the tears

From our correspondent Andrea Tosi

The match that Italy wanted to avoid becomes the masterpiece of a team with soul, heart and courage and adrenaline and its leader Pozzecco. Favorite Serbia goes out with its Jokic totem. Azzurri in the quarters, once again the black beast of the Serbian squadron. Heroic Spissu, Melli from cinema, Fontecchio from Nba. Everyone deserves applause.

Italia-Serbia 94-86

Yet it immediately got bad for the Azzurri. The first push from Jokic, who moves everything and everyone inside the rival area, with two triples from Marinkovic triggers Serbia on 7-16. Pozzecco immediately takes a technician and the referees whistle a lot in favor of the stronger team. Jokic from the line is a sentence (9/9 at the interval), Italy holds up with courage and with the shots of Melli that surprises the defense of the NBA MVP. Fontecchio, however, has only 2 points in the first quarter which sees the blues below 20-28. Another push from Jokic for the Serbian maximum advantage on 24-38, the eighth seems to run away while two more technical fouls arrive on Italy.

But here Fontecchio is shaken that with two triples and 10 points in the second quarter mends to -3 then comes the triple of Micic who puts his hat on the result of the break: 45-51 Serbia with Jokic at 19 points + 7 rebounds followed by Micic with 11. Poz also has two men in double figures: Melli and Fontecchio paired at 13 points. The balance of the free instead says 16/17 Serbia against 5/7. There is no need to victimize but you can feel the difference. Recovery that opens with a triple from Jokic, but Italy is there. Blow for blow remains in contact, Serbia begins to lose fluidity of play and makes many mistakes. Very high tension, Pozzecco takes the second technician, 4 of the team, and is sent off. His exit, with deputy Casalone (last year in A-2 in Turin) taking the lead, ignites the pride of the Azzurri with the splendid Spissu who pockets three triples in a row, pushing Italy’s advantage to 66-63 but there is immediately the counter-overtake; 66-68 Serbia at the third siren.

In the fourth quarter Italy has too much fire: another two triples from Spissu, another from Polonara is the winning break, a 14-2 that puts Serbia in the corner, stunned and unable to react. Jokic is stopped and is no longer scary. The pop-o-pop of the 2006 World Cup starts among the Italian fans. Now in the quarterfinals France vice Olympic champion awaits us. But now this Italy can really dream big

Italia: Spisso 22, Melli 21, Fontecchio 19
Serbia: Jokic 32, Micic 16, Kalinic 12


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