|Andrea Bargnani led the way for the Azzurri, with 19 points and 10 rebounds|
Greece and Italy extended their winning streak in their preparations for the EuroBasket on Tuesday night in Athens, although they went about it in quite different ways.
In the opening game of the 2011 Acropolis Tournament, the 25th edition of the traditional warm-up event the Greek Federation organizes every summer, Italy defeated Bulgaria 74-71 in a game as tight as the final score suggests.
For Italy head coach Simone Pianigianni it was a special occasion, as he had the quartet of Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli, Danilo Gallinari and Stefano Mancinell at his disposal in the same game for the first time since Italy commenced their preparations for the EuroBasket.
It made little difference to Bulgaria though which, despite the loss of key players through injury they suffered recently, they never allowed the Azzurri to build a significant lead and even returned to the locker rooms on top at the end of the first half, 42-40.
Five consecutive points by Belinelli immediately after the start of the third quarter though gave Italy the lead again.
Italy managed their biggest gap up to that point in this quarter, seven points (58-51), but Bulgaria did not let them escape and it remained a close game until the end.
The Azzurri held on to clinch the victory, behind a Bargnani double-double, 19 points and 10 rebounds. Belinelli added 18 points, Gallinari 16 and Mancinelli 11, but no other Italian player came close to scoring in double digits.
For Bulgaria, Deyan Ivanov had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Kaloyan Ivanov 14 points and nine rebounds.
In the late game, the hosts cruised to an easy victory over the American Brigham Young University.
Greece won 83-54, with Kostas Koufos scoring at will to reach a 24-point tally, a personal record with the national team. The young center added eight rebounds and got plenty of support from Kostas Vasileiadis, who had 16 points and captain Antonis Fotsis, who finished with 13.
Italy are the next to take on the Americans on Wednesday while the hosts will meet Bulgaria in another interesting clash between two Lithuania-bound teams.