Tony Parker and Ronny Turiaf combined to score 49 points for France but Ukraine's terrific long-range shooting display over the final 10 minutes lifted them to a 78-77 victory over Les Bleus.
Ukraine, beaten soundly in their opening game by Turkey, were in danger of crashing to a second straight defeat when they trailed 62-54 following a Nando De Colo jump shot at the start of the fourth quarter.
|Tony Parker had a big game for France but it was not enough.|
Oleksandr Kolchenko and Dmytro Zabirchenko each connected from long range to close the gap to 62-60, and with the French still on top at 66-63 following two Tony Parker free throws with four minutes remaining, the bombs started falling again.
First Kolchenko struck to tie the game at 66-66, and after San Antonio Spurs star Parker buried a jumper, Andriy Agafonov drilled a three to put the Ukrainians on top for the first time in the final period with 3:03 left.
France got two more Parker free throws and a shot from behind the arc from De Colo, the hero of their midweek triumph over Belgium, to go back in front at 73-69 just 2:05 from the end.
Zabirchenko buried a three and then Serhiy Lishchuk followed with a trey to make it 75-73 with 1:11 to go.
Parker split a pair at the charity stripe to trim the deficit to one, only for a Lishchuk three-point play with 36 seconds to play to extend the Ukraine advantage to four.
After Agafonov fouled Turiaf and the big center managed to make just one of two at the line, France ended up with the ball with just seconds to play and behind by three.
Instead of allowing Parker to attempt a three, Ukraine fouled the French playmaker and he sank two at the free throw line to make it 78-77 with three seconds left.
Ukraine held on.
Parker led all scorers with 30 points and Turiaf added 19, while De Colo finished with 10.
For Ukraine, Lishchuk poured in a team-high 18 points and the hosts finished 10 of 19 from behind the arc compared to France's six of 19.
Ukraine survived despite a poor effort at the stripe where they hit 14 of 23 (60.9%). France were 13 of 19 (68.4%) at the line.
Michel Gomez, France coach:
"We expected a hard game, we saw what happened in Ukraine's match in Turkey. We knew Ukraine was dangerous from three-point range and still this was something they were able to do well. But overall we played a good game. We started the game well, but sometimes it's better to start poorly and finish well. Unfortunately we did not have a timeout to tell Tony Parker to miss the second free throw when we were down by three. The bench was trying to tell him but it didn't work and he made the shot. Still we got a chance to make a steal and win the game, so it was a flip of the coin in the end."
Valentyn Melnychuk, Ukraine coach:
"First of all I would like to say thank you to all the players that were on the court tonight. But I would also like to thank all the players that took part in the tryouts and had to be cut. Some of the decisions to leave players behind were extremely tough. It was hard to convince the players to believe in themselves and to know they can match players from the NBA or from any other league. Finally it worked. We are extremely happy tonight and will be celebrating. Tomorrow we'll start to prepare for Belgium."