Group A: Latvia, France Stay Perfect

04.08.2007

Italy failed to get the win they needed against France in a close, physical encounter that ended 75-68 in France’s favour.

The result means that France and Latvia now top the group with four points from two wins each, while Italy will have to beat Estonia tomorrow in order to progress to the qualifying round.

The game started off quite slowly on the scoreboard as the two teams failed to take their

Andrea Renzi (Italy)
Andrea Renzi led all scorers with 22 points.
chances both from inside and outside of the arc.

There was nothing to choose between the two sides in the first half, as the lead changed hands seven times before both teams went to the break tied on 40 points.

After halftime France came out with more drive, and led by Antoine Diot, Les Bleus gradually started to take control of the game.

“After the break the intensity changed and it was easier to control the game as we wanted” said France coach Phillipe Ory of the change.

Despite some spirited play from the Italians, and in particular their forward Andrea Renzi who totalled a game high 22 points, France were now in their stride and once Edwin Jackson joined Diot in notching up the points in the final quarter the result was never going to be in question.

“It was a very difficult first half for us because Italy hit 61% of their two point shots” continued Ory.

“But we have our leaders Diot and Jackson with us, so you don’t have to worry!”

In Group A’s clash of the Baltics, Latvia came out on top against Estonia 80-64 in a game that remained a balanced contest until the third quarter.

Estonia, keen to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s heavy defeat against France, battled hard until a poor third quarter showing in which they managed just nine points and fell out of the game.

Lauris Blaus (Latvia)
Lauris Blaus scored only two points but hauled in 10 rebounds for Latvia.
They again failed to convert their three point field goals, hitting just three of 17 attempts and none in the first half.

Latvia showed that yesterday’s excellent win against Italy was no fluke result, and they look like a tough side which can fight hard throughout the whole game, with battling players Lauris Mizis who today combined an impressive 15 rebounds with a haul of 13 points.

After a good start by the Latvian side, which saw them take the first nine points of the game without reply, the Estonians fought back with an 11-0 run of their own to overturn the deficit and take a 13-12 lead.

They were led during this run by Sten Sokk, who scored seven of their first quarter points and finished the game with 17.

But at the start of the third, when Mizis joined in the scoring with his teammates Oskars Virsis and Dairis Bertans (18 points each), Latvia were able to go on a 12-0 run to take a 16 point lead and end the game as a contest.

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