Italy maintained their supremacy over Serbia by effectively slowing down Serbia’s offensive plays.

Simone Fontecchio shined with a remarkable 30-point performance, leading Italy to a hard-fought 78-76 victory at the beginning of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Second Round Group I.

This win significantly boosts Italy’s chances of advancing to the Quarter-Finals.

Despite falling behind by 16 points initially, Italy mounted a comeback and now boasts a 3-1 record in the Second Round.

This marks their third consecutive win against Serbia, following previous triumphs in the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Belgrade Final and FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Round of 16.

Prior to these victories, Serbia had won their previous seven encounters with Italy. However, Serbia’s record dropped to 3-1 after this game.

Italy started the match strongly, connecting on several three-pointers and establishing a 10-point lead in the first quarter. However, Serbia quickly erased this lead in the early stages of the second quarter.

The remainder of the first half saw a tightly contested game. In the third quarter, Serbia managed to seize control with an 18-4 run, securing a 60-44 lead.

Italy staged a comeback in the fourth quarter, embarking on a 17-2 run to narrow the deficit to 62-61, with Luigi Datome contributing 10 points in just 90 seconds.

Italy’s momentum continued with an impressive 28-7 run, resulting in a 72-65 advantage. Although Marko Guduric made a three-pointer with 50 seconds left to bring the score to 76-74, Simone Fontecchio responded with a crucial basket just 33 seconds before the game’s conclusion.

“We believed,” Luigi Datome said. “I mean they were up but we kept on playing, kept on playing, at the end we made the right plays and I’m proud of this group of guys who keep believing.

“We are not the best team of course at the World Cup but we keep believing and it was a good night for us. Of course we didn’t achieve nothing yet. We still need to be to beat Puerto Rico next game. I hope for the other results but today we celebrate.”

Watch the game highlights between Serbia and Italy in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: