France and Italy both triumphed in very close games on the opening afternoon of the FIBA U18 European Championship in Belgrade.
The French prevailed over Lithuania 71-66, while the Italians edged Bulgaria 60-56.
Les Bleuets jumped out to a 39-26 advantage at half-time and stretched that to 50-35 midway through the third quarter after a three-pointer from Alexis Ajinca.
But the Baltic basketball giants stormed back to make a game of it, making their move with just under nine minutes to play.
Povilas Butkevicius made a pair of free throws, and Edvinas Ruzgas drained a shot from behind the arc.
Aurelien Salmon intervened for France with a lay-up to take the lead back to 60-52, but the Lithuanians kept on coming.
Paulius Ivanauskas scored down low, and then Ruzgas buried a jump shot to raise his points tally to 10 to trim French lead to 60-56.
Martynas Gecevicius then made a three-pointer for the Lithuanians, one of their 10 in the game, to cut France's lead to 60-59.
After French ace Jason Bach's miss from long range, Lithuania struck again.
Butkevicius was fouled by Adrien Moerman and he made both shots from the line to give Lithuania a 61-60 lead with 4:50 to play.
The French immediately went back in front with Aldo Curti scoring on a fast-break, but Lithuania's Zydrunas Kelys responded with a lay-up and was fouled by Curti.
He sank the free throw for a 64-62 Lithuanian advantage with 4:17 to go.
Just as it looked as if the Baltic team might grab a stranglehold, Curti made amends.
He sand a pair of free throws to tie the contest, and then Moerman went up strong for a basket to put France back in front at 66-64.
They stayed in the lead for the remainder of the game.
Lithuania's Gecevicius led all scorers with 19 points, while Curti top-scored for France with 13.
France outrebounded the Lithuanians 50-43.
The most glaring statistic was the free throw percentages. France were an awful 10 of 20 (50%), while Lithuania were even worse at eight of 17 (47.1%).
The other contest saw an Italian side launch an impressive fourth-quarter fightback to stun Bulgaria who had led 51-41 with 7:11 to go in the game.
Luigi Datome's basket with 55 seconds remaining gave Italy a 56-54, and they stayed in front for the remainder of the game.
Both teams shot the ball poorly. They also committed numerous turnovers - Bulgaria had 20 to 17 for Italy.
Guard Danilo Gallinari paced the Italians with 13 points while Bulgaria's Ivan Lilov led all scorers with 15 points.