France Squeeze Past Latvia


France overcame a miserable first half to edge their contest with Latvia and finish the preliminary round as Group B leaders.

The Latvians came out all guns blazing in the first 20 minutes of the game as they piled up 51 points. France, on the other hand, couldn't find any rhythm at the offensive end.

If it wasn't for Eddie Jackson their predicament may have been even more serious than the 15-point margin at half-time (51-36).

Antoine Diot (France)
Antoine Diot
The 186 cm shooting guard accounted for 16 of France's 18 first quarter points and finished with 19 at the half.

The French finally found their game in the third quarter, outscoring Latvia 27-11 to take a 63-62 lead into the final period.

But the game was far from over.

The lead changed hands 3 times in the final period before France opened up a 4-point gap on 2 Jackson free throws with 3 minutes to go.

Latvia answered with a Zeps three-pointer and 2 free throws from Blaus, and even had a chance to take the lead when Zeps went to the line with 1:27 to go, but the point guard made 1 of 2 to tie the game at 76-76.

Christophe Leonard was fouled on the next posession and also split a pair from the line to put France up by one, 76-77.

In the end it was a littany of errors which decided the score.

Antoine Diot stole Latvia's inbound pass and was immediately fouled. He missed both free throws, but managed to grab the offensive rebound and found Lefevre who was immediately fouled.

Lefevre hit one of two from the line, leaving Latvia 9 seconds to either tie or go for the win, 76-78.

But the Latvians were unable to get off a shot as Diot intercepted another stray Latvian pass to seal the win.

Jackson finished with a game high 30 points for France, while Diot made his presence felt all over the court with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals.

Serbia & Montenegro finished what proved to be a miserable first round experience with a loss to Spain.

Without their head coach (banned for 2 games after his disqualification against Latvia), Serbia & Montenegro suffered a come-from-behind victory from the host nation.

Ricard Rubio (Spain)
Ricard Rubio

Serbia & Montenegro maintained a lead from midway through the third quarter until Spain finally caught up with them on a Ricard Rubio three-pointer with just over 3 minutes to play, 63-64.

It was downhill all the way to the close for Serbia & Montenegro as Spain completed an emotional win when Ricard found Pere Tomas for an open jump shot which gave his side a 5-point lead with 12 seconds left.

Spain's 67-73 win is enough to see them through to the quarter-final round in second place in Group B behind France.

In the remaining games in Astorga, Turkey were made to work for their third successive victory, squeezing out an 81-79 overtime victory over Ukraine to secure top spot in Group D.

Both sides will advance to the quarter-final round.

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