01 - 18
September 2022
13 Simone Fontecchio (ITA)
Game Report
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Hot hands for Italy freeze out Estonia in EuroBasket opener

MILAN (Italy) - Group C hosts Italy confidently began their EuroBasket 2022 campaign with a victory, defeating Estonia 83-62 at the Forum di Assago.

Sparked by electrifying shooting from Simone Fontecchio, who hit a game-high 19 points and broke the resistance of the Estonians in the second period after they had rallied admirably following a 14-0 run from the Azzurri.

Yet a surge before the interval pushed the Italians 52-33 ahead and another 9-2 burst in the third quelled any doubts.

And with Achille Polonara concluding a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds,  head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco had the luxury of offering his leading lights some rest in the fourth ahead of Saturday's duel with Greece.

Turning Point: Fontecchio capitalized on crisp ball movement to convert a trio of three-pointers inside 72 seconds amid a 15-2 surge late in the second quarter that broke the game apart.

TCL Player of the Game: Fontecchio finished with an impeccable stat line of 19 points and 5 assists on 7-of-10 shooting, with five three-pointers. A good night’s work in front of a partisan crowd in Milan.

Stats Don’t Lie: 
Italy dominated in the paint, out-scoring Estonia 38-20, converting 62 percent from 2-point range, and winning the battle of the boards 42-28.

Bottom Line: Italy were retooling following the pre-tournament injury to Danilo Gallinari, now confirmed as a torn ACL. Alternative offensive options have emerged as Greece looms on the Saturday schedule. For Estonia, it was an impressive first quarter but with improvements required, particularly in rebounding.

They said:

"It's definitely nice having someone like Gallinari because if you get in trouble, you can get a little relief by giving him the ball and  letting him go to work just because he's so skilled. So after he went down, we knew we had to pick our spots a little more and understand what we're looking for. And everyone has to be aggressive.  I think we did that. Transition is going be big for us so we don't have to play in the halfcourt all the time. And if we get guys good shots, I think we'll be successful." - Italy guard Nico Mannion

"We really played as a team. We had 24 assists. But we really shared the ball well and everybody took one step back to help their teammates. In my opinion, this is the best way to play basketball. Of course, we have some weaknesses: we are not so tall or athletic. But we played really good basketball.” - Italy head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco

"We take pride in that we were down 15 and we came back to 6. They had a bad stretch but after those three or four threes in a row, that messed us up again. But in every negative, there's also positivity. It's good for us that we can grow and learn." - Estonia guard Kerr Krissa