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France Shake Off Czechs, But Only Just

25 July 2009

France narrowly avoided letting another big lead go to waste as they beat the Czech Republic 78-67 at the U18 European Championship Men 2009 in Metz, France.

With the win, the host nation finished second in Group A behind Serbia and secured their place in the Qualifying Round.

Meanwhile, the Czechs - still without a win so far - will do battle in the 12th-16th place games.

A day after letting a double-digit lead slip away and losing 83-81 to Slovenia, France hit eight of 11 attempts from three-point territory to take a 41-27 half-time lead over the Czech Republic.

Frederic Bourdillon, Nikola Stojiljkovic and Matt Lebrun - playing for the first time in this tournament after sitting out the opening two games through injury - combined to make seven of nine attempts from long range as the host nation recovered from a slow start.

And with a 57-42 advantage heading into the final quarter, they looked to have the game all but won.

However, the Czechs gave them quite a fright by crawling their way back to within five, 72-67, on Ondrej Peterka's basket with 1:15 left.

France caught a lucky break when Peterka missed two free-throws nine seconds later and the hosts made four of six free-throws in the final minute to make the victory certain.

Les Bleus, buoyed by their fans, jumped in front 12-8 when Stojiljkovic hit consecutive long bombs and held a 17-12 lead heading into the second quarter.

They took their first double-digit lead, 23-13, when Bourdillon knocked down a three-pointer and led by as many as 19 when the latter scored midway through the third quarter.

Bourdillon led five players in double-figures with a game-high 15 points. Westermann had a solid all-around game with seven points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

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