By Simon Wilkinson
France and Spain will today try to forget last night's demoralising semi-finals losses when they take to the court for the bronze medal game.
Both teams suffered heartbreaking one-point defeats to eventual finalists Greece and Germany respectively.
Les Bleus led 62-55 with 40 seconds left in the game, but somehow Greece fought their way back and incredibly took the lead for good with three seconds left to play, 67-66, on a three-pointer by rising star of Greek basketball Dimitrios Diamantidis.
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France have not appeared in a gold medal game since 1949.
French captain Antoine Rigaudeau tried to run the ball up the court in the closing seconds and create a scoring opportunity but was called for a traveling violation at half-court.
After the game, the teary-eyed captain was inconsolable and placed the blame fully on himself for missing two of four free-throws in the last 14 seconds of the game.
"It's not normal for me to be missing from the free-throw line. I have no excuses. I apologise to my team-mates, to the coaching staff and to the fans. This loss is my own fault," he said.
Rigaudeau couldn't even talk about the bronze medal game - one he may sit out as he is said to have picked up an injury during the semi-final.
However, his team-mate Boris Diaw was more optimistic about the way France had played and emphasized there was still something to play for.
"We're all disappointed naturally. We played well for 39 minutes and faltered the last. And because of all the time-outs, those last 60 seconds seemed like an eternity," said France's leading scorer this tournament.
"But the competition is not over yet. There is a bronze medal to play for, and we need to play our best to take it home."
Spain suffered an equally disheartening one-point defeat to the hands of Germany, 74-73, as Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki hit a baseline jumper with three seconds left to play that gave Dirk Bauermann's the lead and final score.
The loss was very hard to swallow for Mario Pasquera's men as they came back from a seven-point deficit, 72-65, with a minute and 44 seconds left to play, to take the lead on a Juan Carlos Navarro floater with 14 seconds to go in the game.
The leading scorer in the tournament had Spain's last nine points, including all eight of the 8-0 run that got Spain from being seven down, 72-65, to being one up, 73-72, with 14 seconds left in the game.
Pesquera's men were let down by their three-point shooting, converting only two of 19 attempts on the night, while Germany shot a reasonable 13 of 33 from beyond the arc.
Spain will be disappointed not to be able to go one better than in Sweden two years ago, when they took the silver medal after losing to Lithuania.
But Spanish captain Carlos Jimenez warned his team-mates and he could not afford to dwell on the semi-final loss.
"We need to forget this defeat as quickly as possible and concentrate on the bronze medal game. We don't want to go home empty handed," said Jimenez.
"It will not be an easy game, but we are determined to go home with a medal," he added.
For the fans, this game should prove highly entertaining, high scoring and fast paced as the tournament's most athletic team - France - takes on the highest scoring one - Spain.