Late Defeat Brings Agony For France

20.09.2008

France suffered a narrow home defeat to unbeaten Turkey on Saturday night to miss out on direct qualification for next year's EuroBasket in Poland.

Les Bleus lost 80-78 in Limoges to leave the 6,000-strong crowd disappointed and feeling let down, just as French fans did last summer when the national team came in eighth at the EuroBasket in Spain - one place worse off than Slovenia who advanced to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Defeat to Slovenia in the seventh/eighth place game in Madrid in 2007 has proved to be very costly because had Tony Parker and Co won that game, they would not only have had a chance to earn a trip to the Beijing Games. They also would have qualified for the EuroBasket in Poland which is something they have yet to do.

San Antonio Spurs point guard Parker was the only French player to score in double figures with 37 points and it wasn't enough as Kerem Tunçeri hit the biggest shots for Turkey on the night.

He nailed one three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to cut France's lead to 58-57 and after Stephen Brun missed with the score knotted at 60-60, Tunçeri buried another three to put his team in front for good.

Turkey threatened to win decisively when going on top 74-67 with 2:19 remaining after a lay-up by the excellent Fatih Solak, only for France to reel off six consecutive points. That scoring burst was capped by a Parker three-ball as the hosts closed the gap to one with 1:22 left.

Two more Tunçeri free throws extended the lead back to three, and after Brun missed from long range, Solak made two at the line to put Turkey on top at 78-73.

Parker made a lay-up and after he grabbed the defensive rebound on a Tunçeri miss, Turkey fouled Nando De Colo. The Cholet guard sank two free throws to cut the visitors' lead to 78-77 with 27 seconds to play.

France fouled Ersan Ilyasova and the Barcelona forward missed two free throws, giving Michel Gomez's team a chance to reclaim the lead but with seven seconds remaining, Yakhouba Diawara missed from three-point range and Tunçeri rebounded.

France fouled him, and the guard made both free throws with five seconds left, and Turkey elected to foul Parker instead of letting the French attempt a potential game-tying three.

Parker missed both shots at the stripe, however, Diawara got the offensive board and drew a foul from Tunçeri.

He made the first but missed the second and Turkey got the rebound to seal the 80-78 win.

Tunçeri finished with 13 points for the Turks.

France hurt their cause at the free throw line, making 17 of 28 (60.7%) compared to Turkey's 20 of 26 (76.9%).

Gomez's team had the luxury of playing a Turkey side without Orlando Magic star Hedo Turkoglu but was not able to take advantage.


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