France Stomp Belgium In Second Leg To Reach EuroBasket


France destroyed Belgium 92-54 on Sunday to claim the final place on offer for the EuroBasket in Poland.

Vincent Collet's team rebounded from Thursday's 70-66 defeat in Antwerp in the first leg of the Additional Qualifying Round Play-off to post a 34-point (158-124) triumph on aggregate.

The success means that France will play in Group B with Germany, Latvia and defending European champions Russia.

Their opening game in the EuroBasket will be on September 7 against Germany in Gdansk, Poland.

Belgium were the surprise package in the Additional Qualifying Round and will be bitterly disappointed to miss out on a trip to Poland for the Final Round.

They managed just two victories last summer but that was enough to claim a place in Group A and they ended up beating Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina to claim the top spot to set up the do-or-die tie with France, who overcame Italy and Finland to win Group B.

The Belgians, led by their Real Madrid star Axel Hervelle, played a near perfect game on Thursday in Antwerp in front of 6,000 fans in posting the first-leg, four-point triumph.

The key in that contest had been Belgium's ability to dictate a slower tempo, and Collet had spoken of the need to speed Sunday's game up so the French could use their superior athleticism and quickness.

The French left no doubt about the winners of the second leg in a decisive second quarter.

Leading 21-18 just 30 seconds into the frame, Les Bleus turned on the afterburners and outscored the Belgians 27-5 over the next nine minutes for a commanding 48-23 advantage.

They kept the pressure on in the second half in a thorough dismantling of Eddy Casteels' team.

While Parker gets most of the headlines, it was the tough-as-nails play of big man Ronny Turiaf who provided the edge in the second leg.

He had 15 of his game-high 19 points by half-time.

Turiaf also pulled down seven of his nine rebounds in the opening two quarters.

When it was over, France had won the rebounding battle 35-25.

They had also held Belgium to 13 of 34 (38.2%) shooting inside the arc and six of 20 (30%) beyond it.

France ended up with five players, including Turiaf, in double figures scoring.

Parker finished with 16 points, Boris Diaw 13 and both Nando De Colo and Ali Traore 12.

Antoine Diot had nine assists to go with his one point for the French.

Christophe Beghin had 11 points for Belgium, who will attempt to put the disappointment of missing out on the EuroBasket behind them and try to qualify for 2011 in Lithuania.

France will celebrate for a few days, catch their breath and then take aim at a podium finish in Poland.

They are good enough to win the gold, but Collet's team will also need no reminding of how difficult EuroBaskets are.

Two years ago in Spain, they finished a disappointing eighth and missed out on the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

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