France confirmed their status as pre-tournament favourites by defeating Slovenia in Luleå this afternoon to finish group play 3-0 and earn automatic qualification to the quarter-finals.
Despite their loss, Slovenia's tournament hopes are still alive as they face an elimination game tomorrow night in Luleå. The Slovenians will also be encouraged by their performance against France and although they lost, they made life very difficult for Les Bleus.
Slovenia came out of the gate quickest and took the initiative throughout the first 3 quarters. Marko Milic started his first game of the tournament in place of Boris Gorenc, and the switch paid off as Milic played a great first half (9 points and 10 rebounds).
Primoz Brezec also stepped up for Slovenia once again, battling France's interior defence and contributing 14 points and 2 blocks.
The game went literally down to the wire and it was only in the last 3 minutes that France were able to step up a gear to make the game safe. Laurent Foirest and Moustapha Sonko combined for 10 points in 2 minutes to give France a 81-74 lead.
Slovenia countered with 3-pointers from Jurica Golemac and Jaka Lakovic, but France had a firm grip on the game. Lakovic hit another 3-pointer to cut the score to 80-85, but with only 42 seconds on the clock, it was too late for Slovenia.
France got their best performance of the competition from Tony Parker (21 points and 3 assists) and Tariq Abdul Wahad and Laurent Foirest added 19 points each.