July 31, 2021Italbasket is in the quarter-finals of Tokyo 2020. Objective achieved thanks to the 80-71 victory against Nigeria in the third and final match of Group B.

A success suffered after a nightmare second and third quarter, with 27 points totals made on the scoresheet after 29 in the first quarter alone.

Coach Meo Sacchetti's team does not shoot very well closing with 40% from the field, but in the last quarter it is the desire and determination of the Azzurri to make the difference, with only 8 points granted to Mike Brown's team.

Now the draw is expected to find out who will be Italy's opponent in the quarter-finals.

The start of the match for the Azzurri is a mix of concentration, competitive nastiness and excellent shooting percentages. Coach Sacchetti's men go up to +12 with a super partial from 11-0, only to let the opponents return for a moment up to -7. For the green-and-whites of Nigeria, however, the 6 turnovers in the first quarter weigh, which allow Italy to re-extend and reach the first mini-rest ahead of still 12 points (29-17).

The second quarter did not start in the best way for the Azzurri who did not score for almost four minutes, allowing Nigeria to resoundingly return to the game. The partial of the African selection says 13-2 in the middle of the period and the -1 calls everything into question.

Italy incredibly undermines their percentages from the field, shooting very badly especially from a distance, while Nigeria led by a super Metu (14 points and 4 out of 5 from three at the interval), even tries to close ahead at rest, but the Azzurri they manage to keep that small point of advantage (40-39).

At the beginning of the third quarter Sacchetti's team seems to find the right clarity to try to re-extend: the Azzurri place a nice partial of 6-0, but with a partial counter of 7-0 Nigeria returns to contact finding parity, then escaping on the +6 with another bomb from Metu and support from below from Achiuwa. It is the most difficult moment for Italy, the green-and-whites fly to +8 at the beginning of the last quarter.

Mannion, Ricci, Fontecchio and Melli, however, with four consecutive baskets allow the Azzurri to recover morale by returning ahead at 65-64. Nigeria no longer scores and Italy runs away on +6 with a 14-0 run, closed by the bomb of Metu. Italy, however, no longer misses anything and with a Mannion bomb just over 30 seconds from the end, closes the accounts, setting the final at 80-71.