France 70 Lithuania 74


Sarunas Jasikevicius had almost a triple double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists
Lithuania became the first team to qualify for the Eurobasket 2003 finals and in doing so also qualified for next year's Olympics in Athens. Lithuania won a thrilling game over France behind superb performances from Saulius Stombergas and Sarunas Jasikevicius.

In a game that had everything, Lithuania came up with the lucky bounces at the end to emerge with the win. France got the lead 70-65 on a Boris Diaw layup with 3.35 left in the fourth quarter. That was the last time France scored in the semifinal. Lithuania went on a 9-0 run to close out the game.

The run started with Eurelijus Zukauskas hitting 2 free throws and after that Arvydas Macijauskas tied the game at 70 when he hit a 3-pointer. With a little over 2 minutes left on the clock Sarunas Jasikevicius fed Saulius Stombergas for a layup to put Lithuania ahead.

Lithuania committed a 24 second clock violation and gave the ball back to France with 1.26 left. Mustapha Sonko missed a baseline layup and in the scramble for the loose ball Lithuania came up with it. After they failed to score Fance got a chance to win the game with the last shot. 15.9 seconds remained in the game when San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker dribbled the ball up court for what seemed to be the last shot.

Arvydas Macijauskas guarded by Tariq Abdul Wahad
Parker then somehow lost control of the ball, which bounced off the referee and ended up in Lithuanian possesion. Ramunas Siskauskas hit two free throws for the final margin of 74-70. Parker's last second heave fell short as the buzzer sounded and the Lithuanian players on the bench stormed the court the celebrate the victory. Lithuania had enormous support from the crowd where the colors green, red and yellow dominated.

The game featured a matchup between the two best point guards in the tournament; Jasikevicius for Lithuania and Parker for France. Both players had terrrific games but Jasikevicius came out on top when his team advanced to the finals. Jasikevicius came 3 assists shy of recording a triple double. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Parker played all 40 minutes for France and scored 24 points but shot only 8 for 23 from the floor.

Saulius Stombergas returned to form after scoring only 4 points against Serbia & Montenegro in the quarterfinals. Stombergas led Lithuania with 22 points and also grabbed 5 rebounds. Ramunas Siskauskas had 11 points and 8 rebounds. 216 cm center Eurelijus Zukauskas played a terrific game and was a force under the basket with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks.

After playing less than 4 minutes because of a shoulder injury in the quarterfinal Dallas Maverick Tariq Abdul-Wahad returned with a venegeance in this game. Abdul-Wahad scored 16 points and got 8 rebounds as he showed no ill effects from his shoulder problems. Cyril Julian did not play in the quarterfinal but came off the bench to score 12 points against Lithuania.

Many of the french players was in foul trouble at the end of the game. 4 players had 4 fouls or more. Captain Laurent Foirest fouled out in the fourth after playing only 16 minutes and scoring 3 points. French coach Alan Weisz was critical of the officials after the game.

Both teams shot poorly, but Lithuania slightly better, 37 %, than France, 33 %. Macijauskas hit 2 free throws to make him a perfect 21 for 21 in the tournament. Lithuania will face either Spain or Italy in the finals.


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