Lithuania Bid To Stay Unbeaten

10 September 2007
By Simon Wilkinson

France will bid to end Lithuania's undefeated run so far in EuroBasket 2007 when the teams meet today in a rematch of a 2005 EuroBasket quarter-final.

Two years ago, Claude Bergeaud's men scored a big upset when they knocked out the then defending champions with a 63-47 win behind Boris Diaw's 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Lithuania currently tops Group F with a 3-0 record and, along with Slovenia, are the only two remaining undefeated teams left and have both already qualified for the quarter-finals.

France go into today's game knowing that a win will secure their place in the last eight.

Tony Parker (France)
As usual Parker will lead the way for France.
Last Time Out: Tony Parker scored 23 points and got a lot of help from Florent Pietrus and Tariq Kirksay as France beat Germany 78-66 in their first game of the qualifying round. Meanwhile, Rimantas Kaukenas tallied 22 points as Lithuania overcame a groin injury to Sarunas Jasikevicius to hold off Italy 79-74 as Ramunas Butautas's side became the first to secure its passage to the last eight round.

Key Match-up: Parker vs. Jasikevicius. If the Lithuania point guard is healthy - in addition to the groin injury he picked up against Italy, he also has had a right knee injury since the team's second game of the group stages and has had to wear a big brace - he will make things very tough on his French counterpart. If Jasikevicius is healthy enough, then this will make for a great battle. After a relatively slow start in his team's win against Poland, Parker has been in fine form in the last three games.

Statistics: With Boris Diaw having a quiet game offensively against Germany, Pietrus and Kirksay stepped up their play and combined for 24 points. More importantly, they were the ones who helped France turn the game in their favour when they accounted for 10 of the points in a 15-2 run to turn a 28-28 tie into a 43-30 lead in the second quarter.

X-Factor: Jasikevicius' status. If his injuries get the better of him, look for Lithuania to turn to Kaukenas once again.

Sounding Off: "Since Jasikevicius left the Lithuanian national team, they haven't won much of anything and I don't think that's a coincidence. Now that he has returned, they've benefited from his leadership, his scoring and his good set of skills. They've built the team around him. But stopping him alone won't be enough to beat Lithuania. They have six scorers on that team and we must try to stop them too." - France coach Claude Bergeaud.


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