France Finish Fifth

20.09.2009

By Simon Wilkinson

Game Summary

Turning point:
With under three minutes left to play, Yannick Bokolo drove baseline and fed a cutting Nicolas Batum for a double-pump dunk and a 65-56 lead. Special mention for Diot's banked halfcourt three-pointer that beat the second quarter buzzer and gave France a 34-24 advantage at the break.

Hero: Antoine Diot and Nando de Colo, With Vincent Collet resting key players such as Tony Parker, Florent Pietrus and Ronny Turiaf, the young guns stepped up and finished with 18 and 15 points respectively.

Stats: France hit nine of 18 three-points attempts. Diot was four of seven from beyond the arc.

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France held off Croatia for a 69-62 win to take fifth place at EuroBasket 2009 in Katowice on Sunday.

Antoine Diot scored 18 points and Nando de Colo added 15 as the French used a 9-0 run in the first quarter to break a 9-9 score and they did not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Davor Kus had 18 points for Croatia, who made several runs but could never edge in front as France made key baskets to put an end to their spurts.

Both teams had already secured their places in next year's World Championship in Turkey on Saturday with Vincent Collet's men beating Turkey while Jasmin Repesa's side outlasted Russia.

Therefore, both coaches used this game as a chance to rest some key players and let others showcase their skills.

Tony Parker, Boris Diaw (sprained ankle) and Florent Pietrus did not play for France, while Roko-Leni Ukic (groin injury), Zoran Planinic and Mario Stojic sat out for Croatia.

Marin Rozic buried a three-pointer to tie the game at 9 before de Colo - who had 12 points in the opening quarter - and Diot combined for nine unanswered points.

Marko Popovic ended the spurt with a short jumper and Rozic made a free-throw to cut the deficit to 18-12, but De Colo converted a three-point play in the closing seconds of the period for a 21-12 advantage.

Croatia came back in the second period, using an 8-0 run to get within 23-22 on Sandro Nicevic's basket with 3:44 to go before the break.

Diot then hit a three-pointer to end a scoreless drought of almost four minutes for France but the Croats stayed close after Mario Kasun made two free-throws for 25-24.

Les Bleus pulled away once more as they accounted for the last nine points of the first half. Some good ball movement led to an Ian Mahinmi dunk before Batum hit a pair of foul shots.

Diot then closed out the second quarter in style, burying a wing three-pointer and then banking a halfcourt shot that beat the half-time buzzer to give France their first double-digit lead, 34-24.

Collet's side extended their lead to 41-27, when Diot hit his fourth long bomb midway through the third quarter. They had their biggest lead of the game, 46-31, when De Colo buried a long bomb from the corner, but Croatia scored the last 10 points of the period to cut the deficit to 46-41 on Kus' three-pointer in the closing seconds.

The Croats made it 14 unanswered points when Banic and Kus scored the first four points of the final quarter to get within one, 46-45. France responded by scoring nine of the next 12 points courtesy of Ali Traore, Yannick Bokolo and Nicolas Batum.

Repesa's men did not relent and closed within 60-56 when Kresimir Loncar converted a three-point play with just under four minutes remaining.

Once again though, France answered right back as Batum connected from beyond the arc. Bokolo then drove baseline and fed the cutting Portland Trailblazers swingman for a double-pump dunk and a 65-56 lead and that pretty much wrapped up the win for Les Bleus.


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