France Remain Unbeaten

15.09.2009

By Yarone Arbel

Game Summary

Turning point: It came down to the very last play of the night with eight seconds on the clock. 22 year old Nando De Colo against a very experienced and a great defender as Nikos Zisis, but a turn around shot sank inside the rim with ease and gave France the big win.

Hero: Alain Koffi and Ali Traore came off the bench to cover for a weak night by starting center Ronny Turiaf and combine 24 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and great defense.

Stats: Both teams were highly focused when marching to the charity stripe as France hit 18 out of 22 shots and Greece connected 19 in 23 attempts.

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Nando De Colo's turn around buzzer-beater bestowed upon France the top spot in Group E in Bydgoszcz behind a 71-69 victory over Greece.

This is the second game in the group today to be decided in the last second and in the exact same score after Russia beat F.Y.R.O.M. 71-69 as well.

France take a 5-0 record in the Qualifying Round to win first place in the group and will enter the Quarter-Finals with big energy.

For Greece this is their second loss in a row, and as a result they dropped to the third spot in the group with a 3-2 record.

Russia was the second team to enjoy the French win as they have climbed to finish the group in the second place after winning all three games in this round.

The 22-year-old De Colo was the MVP of the French league in 2008, when he earned respect as a late bloomer for his shooting and passing.

He entered the last two minutes of the game with no points but then scored six, including the clutch shot to win the game.

De Colo's shot arrived eight seconds after Vasilis Spanoulis hit a big three-pointer to tie the score.

"We wanted to win this game, but also use a chance to give some rest to our main players before the deciding final round," shared Coach Vincent Collet of France.

"We didn't want Tony Parker to play 38 minutes again, and when we saw we can play without him, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf on the floor for long, we continued with that.

"I'm happy we managed to give them rest and win which were our two goals."

Parker played only 21 minutes, Diaw 19 and Turiaf 15.

Coach Collet had the pleasure to see his back up players step up against a strong opponentĀ in Greece.

Alain Koffi scored 14 points, all of them in the first half, but showed his defensive presence throughout the entire game.

The 21 minutes were sufficient for Parker to reach 12 points while Yannick Bokolo and Ali Traore added ten each.

Vasilis Spanoulis scored 16 points including one of the biggest buckets of the championship, while Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 12.

Greece used the arc to take a quick 13-4 lead, but faced more difficulty to score close to the rim, enough for France to cut the margin and finish the first quarter behind by only three, 21-18.

Alain Koffi and Ali Traore challenged the Greek big guys and combined for 12 points to give France a 24-23 lead after 12:30.

Both French bigs collected two fouls, but the first to get in serious foul trouble was Schortsanitis with three after 14 minutes.

Koffi was on fire and after a big shot block added a mid-range jumper to extend the margin to seven and make it a 13-1 run.

Antoine Diot beat the shot clock with an off balance three, but saw Nick Calathes put a stop to almost six minutes without a field goal by Greece with a drive.

Greece seemed to have lost their sharpness and all their points came from the charity stripe while Koffi climbed to 14 first half points and France reached their maximum lead of nine, 41-32 before Bourousis set the half time score with a right hand hook.

France scored the first four points in the half, to take an 11 point lead, but went silent for three and a half minutes.

Greece scored their first field goal in the second half after more than five minutes but was already half way in an 8-0 run that put them back in the game, 48-44.

Ronny Turiaf and Efstratios Perperoglou picked up their fourth foul and hit the bench, before Spanoulis had his treat for the fans.

Inside the last minute of the quarter Greece didn't find the way to the rim and Spanoulis had the ball nearly at half court with the shot clock about to expire.

His big arc slowly made its way to the net for one of the most exciting shots of the tournament that also moved Greece a bit closer, 56-53 and capped the third quarter.

The squad of Coach Jonas Kazlauskas earned several open looks from the arc but missed time after time and entered the last 4:30 minutes down 63-56.

Before it was too late Spanoulis stepped up.

It started with a steal, continued with a three-pointer and when Antonios Fotsis fixed a missed shot Greece was up for the first time in the second half, 64-63 with 2:46 to play.

Coach Collet called a time out and France returned with four points in a row.

Free throw points were exchanged when once more Spanoulis decided it was time to take it on his shoulders.

"It's the second time in a row we lose a close game," commented Coach Kazlauskas.

"Sometimes it's not enough to be strong and play well, but you also need some luck."

With 21 ticks on the clock and his team down by three and took the heat and tied the game with an off-dribble three ball leaving France eight seconds to reply.

More than enough for the French guard.


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