|Anthony Racine gave his side 23 points in a hard fought battle against resilient Greeks|
France used a great finish to beat Greece 55-52 in Group B of the U16 European Championship in a game that took place at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Friday night.
The big run in the last minutes give France a 2-0 record on top of the group and a one way ticket to the Qualifying Round while Greece dropped to 0-2 and must win the last game to avoid the Classification Round.
Tomorrow France will take on Denmark and will attempt to remain perfect, while Greece will face Lithuania in a must-win collide for them.
For the second day in a row Greece was on top going into the deciding minutes, but dropped the game to the more energetic team.
"We lost the game in the small details," said Ioannis Giannopoulos, the coach of the losing side.
"Just like yesterday we didn't have the focus and allowed France to use our mistakes to win the game, despite we did a very good job in defense and limited them on 55 points in bad percentages.
"We'll have to improve our mental approach if we want to win the next game and avoid the Classification Round."
Greece entered the last five minutes still on top after leading from early in the first quarter, but when France made a small change everything fell apart.
"We feel more comfortable when we play full court press and that's what we did in the last minutes," explained Tahar Assed-Liegeon of the French bench.
"Our players functioned very well under the pressure, while the Greeks weren't at their best, so it worked for our best."
Anthony Racine was the hot hand for France with 23 points and several key plays down the stretch, and he was also the only French to reach double-digits.
Ioannis Papapetrou scored 14 but missed all of his five shots from the arc, Kyprianos Maragkos added 13 and Diamantis Slaftsakis scored 10.
Greece held an 11 point lead already at the break and were on the sure path to the win controlling the tempo and dragging France to a low-scoring game, before a 13-0 run by the French side made the big difference.
A very slow game in the first quarter saw the teams stand on a 6-6 tie after seven minutes of basketball, but Greece woke up first and Papapetrou scored nine points in a row to make it 15-9 after 10 minutes.
Another Greek run, this time of eight points in a row, wrote the biggest gap in the game, 15-26 in the 18th minute, and until the break France added two more points to enter the break down by nine that seemed much more than that.
Racine started to connect things and set the margin on just four midway in the third, but the big run started only in the closing period.
Down by seven, 46-39, it was time for a change and the full court press made a big improvement on the French game.
A couple of steals in the back court helped cut down on the margin, and when Rancine hit a huge three pointer he completed nine points in a row that put France on top for the first time since the first quarter.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh scored a bucket before Racine hit another big shot and capped the 13-0 run he created almost by himself.
Greece came back to minus two, but Benjamin Sene scored his only bucket in the game, a big three pointer under pressure, and locked the win in the French closet.