Italy books Fiba World Cup quarterfinals return after 25 years | Inquirer Sports

Italy books Fiba World Cup quarterfinals return after 25 years

/ 06:52 PM September 03, 2023

Italy's Giampaolo Ricci in the Fiba World Cup.

Italy’s Giampaolo Ricci in the Fiba World Cup. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Giampaolo Ricci came to the rescue in the fourth quarter as Italy overcame Puerto Rico, 73-57, and booked its first Fiba World Cup quarterfinals appearance in 25 years on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ricci scored 10 of his 15 points in the payoff period to help Italy pull away in the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead, 68-57, and put away the game with 2:21 remaining . They reach the final phase for the first time since 1998 when their coach Gianmarco Pozzecco was still playing for the team.

“We’re happy. This game was crucial for us. We dreamt of being in the top eight of the World Cup and we realized that. We just did what the coaching told us. We fought for 40 minutes. Puerto Rico is a great team, it has a lot of talent,” said Ricci. “I think it’s a team win because we won the game through defense another time. They only scored 57 points It’s a great emphasis of this game.”

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“We will keep on dreaming,” he added.

Stefano Tonut also scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, setting the tone for their win with 13 in the first half. 

Utah Jazz forward Simone Fontecchio overcame a two-point production in the first two quarters, where he shot 1-of-7 from the field, as he still finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds to finish the second round with a 4-1 record, facing either Team USA or Lithuania in the quarterfinals starting on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Italy veteran forward Luigi Datome was also instrumental with 11 points in his 200th game for the Azzurri. Marco Spissu had eight points, six assists, and four rebounds, while Nicolo Melli added seven markers and 12 rebounds.

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Puerto Rico finished the second round with a 3-2 record, missing the final phase as Tremont Waters, who scored 37 last game, only finished with 13 points on 2-of-10 three-point shooting but he dished out nine assists.

Jordan Howard chipped in 11 points and four rebounds, as Isaiah Pineiro and Ismael Romero added nine markers each.

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TAGS: Fiba World Cup, Italy, Puerto Rico

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