By David Hein
Turning point: Boris Diaw scored on three straight possessions to turn a tie game into a 61-57 lead. Russia did not get closer than one point the rest of the way.
Hero: Boris Diaw - his three-possession stretched capped off a fine showing all game to keep France in rhythm offensively.
Stats: France won despite making just 15 of 28 free throws while out-rebounding Russia 39-23.
The NBA trio of Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf were too much as France remained perfect at EuroBasket 2009, beating defending champions Russia 69-64 to take top honors in Group B.
The three stars combined for 54 points with Diaw leading the way with 19 points and Turiaf collecting 18 points and 14 rebounds for the 3-0 French, who out-rebounded Russia 39-23 including 15 offensive rebounds.
|Ronnie Turiaf combined with Tony Parker and Boris Diaw for 54 points.|
"We played our best game of the tournament. We defended at the same level. But we played much better on offense. We moved the ball much better and found some good situations," said France coach Vincent Collet.
"We really controlled what we wanted to do, committing only 12 turnovers. We dominated the boards. And that was very important for the game."
Turiaf added: "It was a tough game, very hard for both teams. We stayed focused for 40 minutes and played together and we are very happy to have beaten a tough Russian team."
Russia coach David Blatt was impressed that his team even was in the game after looking at the final statistics in front of reporters - including making just 12 of 20 free throws and giving up all the offensive rebounds.
"It's amazing we were in a position to win that game. That just speaks to our character and our ability to hang in there. With the kind of foul shooting we got and giving up 15 offensive rebounds, the sisters of the poor should beat us," said Blatt, whose team will advance along with France and Germany or Latvia to the Qualifying Round.
Russia, who dropped to 1-2, were led by 13 points from Kelly McCarty. Nikita Kurbanov came off the bench to score 12 points and Vitalii Fridzon added 11 points.
McCarty started the game in fine form, hitting a jumper and two three-pointers while Turiaf scored eight points in helping France jump ahead 14-10.
McCarty had to be helped off the floor with 3:32 left in the first quarter after getting hit hard on a drive to the basket.
But the Russian defense, especially Timofey Mozgov and his four first quarter blocked shots, helped keep Blatt's men in the game and Mozgov's basket even gave Russia a 17-15 lead after one period.
The second quarter saw Fridzon and Andrey Vorontsevich nail three-balls in helping Russia build a 28-21 advantage. France worked on pushing the ball after missed long shots and Collet's men chipped away at the lead and eventually pulled ahead 33-32 on Diaw's baby hook shot.
McCarty re-entered the game and made three free throws as the result of a technical foul on the French bench and Russia led 35-34 at intermission.
The Russians again used some long range shooting to pull ahead 47-40. Parker however drained back-to-back triples and Diaw converted twice more in the paint for a 52-51 French lead after three quarters.
Fridzon's three-ball knotted the game at 55-55 before Diaw came up with three straight baskets in building a 61-57 advantage. Kurbanov stole the ball from Parker for a break-away dunk to make it a one-point game.
But Russia went scoreless over the final 3:38 in the loss.