UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Fontecchio Clutch Play Stuns NBA MVP, Italy Tops Serbia

Sep 12, 2022, 2:04 PM
Utah-Jazz-Forward-Simone-Fontecchio...
Simone Fontecchio steals the ball playing for the Italian national team (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz may have struck gold this summer with the addition of Simone Fontecchio who helped lead the Italian national team to a stunning upset of Nikola Jokic and the heavily favored Serbia.

Jokick, the two-time defending NBA MVP had led Serbia to a perfect 5-0 record and the top seed in the EuroBasket knockout round but was eliminated by Italy on Sunday.

Fontecchio, who signed with the Jazz in mid-July made clutch plays on both ends of the floor, including an enormous defensive stop against Jokic to carry Italy to the upset.

With Italy leading Serbia 88-78 late in the second half, Fontecchio rotated to defend Jokic, intercepting his pass to a teammate at the three-point line. The Jazz forward then finished at the other end with a circus layup while drawing a foul, putting the finishing touches on Serbia’s EuroBasket tournament.

Italy was able to build their double-digit lead over the EuroBasket giants thanks to a 16-2 run to open the fourth quarter, erasing a 14 point first-half lead by Serbia.

Fontecchio finished with 19 points including 3-6 shooting from the three-point line, part of Italy’s impressive 16-38 outing from downtown against Serbia.

Italy will face former Jazz star Rudy Gobert and France on Wednesday with a chance to advance to the EuroBasket semifinals.

Markkanen Pours In 42 For Finland

Lauri Markkanen is also turning heads as he continues his brilliant run at EuroBasket.

The Jazz acquired Markkanen earlier this month in a trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the seven-foot big man from Finland has been putting on a show ever since.

Markkanen scored a stunning 42 points as he led Finland to a 94-86 victory over Croatia and Jazz teammate Bojan Bogdanovic early Sunday morning.

The forward knocked down 19-29 field goal attempts in just 32 minutes as Finland advanced to face Spain on Wednesday.

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