Reaching For The Rings

By David Hein
In most international competitions, the game for seventh place means very little other than the two quarter-finalists wanting to end their tournament on a high note after two straight losses.

But the game for seventh at the 2007 EuroBasket promises to be an extremely contested affair as Slovenia take on France with a spot in the pre-Olympic tournament up for grabs. 

Last Time Out: France lost to Croatia 86-69 in the 5th-8th classification round while Slovenia fell to Germany 69-65. Slovenia beat France 67-66 earlier in the tournament when Tony Parker missed a foul shot with 0.1 seconds left which would have sent the game to over-time.

Key Match-Up: Parker vs Jaka Lakovic - both point guards have struggled at crunch time in this tournament - though Lakovic hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer against Italy. But their respective teams will be looking towards them for leadership with the Olympics still a possibility for the winners. The winner of this showdown could decide the game.

X-Factor: Matjaz Smodis. The Slovenian power forward could have a monster game if the French haven't figured out their problems in the post. Croatian big men Marko Banic, Stanko Barac and Nikola Prkacin combined for 38 points on 18-of-23 (78%) shooting in their win against France. Look for France to get a healthy does of post moves from Smodis and Radoslav Nesterovic.

Stats: In the last two games, Slovenia have blown leads of 12 in the final 2:30 to Greece and nine in the final five minutes against Germany.

Sounding Off: Slovenia play-maker Lakovic: "I'm sure that our team will stay together until and try to save our possibility to make the Olympics. It will be difficult especially because our team is young. We cannot think about Greece or Germany - even though it's difficult to do that sometimes. We must win."


16.09.2007 - By Cindy Garcia-Bennett
16.09.2007 - By David Hein
15.09.2007 - By David Hein
15.09.2007 - By David Hein

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