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Nico Mannion, Italy win to advance to Olympic qualifier finals

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Simone Fontecchio scored a team-high 17 points, Stefano Tonut had 14 points and Nico Mannion added eight points on Saturday to lead Italy to a win over the Dominican Republic in the Olympic qualifying tournament from Belgrade, Serbia.

Mannion shot 2-of-3 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the free-throw line, while adding two rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of work during the 79-59 victory. His performance followed up a 21-point outing on Thursday to help Italy defeat Puerto Rico and advance to the semifinals versus the Dominican Republic.

Italy never seriously trailed in the contest and blew the game wide open in the third quarter after going on a 17-0 run. With the win, Italy will now advance to play Serbia in the finals of the Olympic qualifying tournament on Sunday. The winner will claim one of four remaining spots in the Tokyo Olympics.

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Mannion, who was born in Tuscany, became the fourth-youngest Italian (17) to play with the national team in 2018 at the European qualifiers in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. He recorded nine points during his lone game in a loss to the Netherlands.

After winning their first two games, Italy is certainly playing some of their best basketball heading into the finals on Sunday. They will be looking to win and qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2004 when they finished with the silver.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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