By David HeinFrance and Croatia may be down after losing in their quarter-final showdowns with Russia and Lithuania, respectively but a spot in the pre-Olympic tournament is up for grabs when they hook up Saturday in the 5th-8th classification round.
The winner advances to the tourney while the loser has one final chance to make the pre-Olympic event in the game for 7th place.
Both France and Croatia missed free throws in the waning seconds which could have evened the game.
|Tariq Kirksay has scored in bunches for France and could be a key against Croatia.|
So, expect both teams to try to eventually pull away and put less pressure on themselves from the foul stripe.
Last Time Out: France lost to Russia 75-71 in the quarter-finals while Croatia fell to Lithuania 74-72.
Key Match-Up: Zoran Planinic vs Joseph Gomis - the Croatian had a great game against Lithuania but missed his two foul shots with one second remaining. Expect Planinic to be extra motivated against the French and will a size mis-match against Gomis - 1.97m to 1.80m. Florent Pietrus may move over and try to shot down the Tau Vitoria star.
X-Factor: Tariq Kirksay, the veteran American-born small forward has scored in double digits four times thus far - never in more than 24 minutes - and he's averaged 2.75 steals over the past four games. Those numbers could come in handy against Croatia.
Stats: France allowed Russia to hit 50% (8-of-16) of their three-pointers and they can't do that against a top shooting side like Croatia. The Croatians came into the Lithuania showdown hitting 77% of their foul shots but made just 8-of-19 (42%) from the stripe in the quarter-final.
Sounding Off: France forward Florent Pietrus: "The tournament is far from over. We still have a lot to play for with the bid in the pre-Olympic tournament still there for the taking. The loss against Russia has been digested and all of our attention is on this game."