France Remain Impressive


France produced a polished display at the Termosteps U16 European Championship on Saturday to hold off hosts Spain 97-87.

As in their opener against Serbia & Montenegro, France set a relentless pace at the outset, racing away to a 21-7 lead after 8 minutes.

Spain had no answer for France´s intense defense and fast-paced attack and at halftime France had a firm grip on the game, 47-27.

But, buoyed by the raucous home crowd, Spain tried to match the French at their own game and it began to pay off in the third quarter.

Spain ran the ball at every opportunity and they gradually began to reduce the deficit. By the end of the third period they trailed by 8 points (66-58) and the game was far from over.

Although Spain was now matching France basket for basket, they were unable to exert any defensive authority on proceedings. But with France ahead 79-69, Spain came up with 3 consecutive defensive stops which they converted into a 6-0 run, 79-75.

France, however, remained poised.

Christophe Leonard was fouled on a drive to the basket and drained both free throws, and on the next play he grabbed an offensive rebound which he put back and was fouled.

The bonus free throw restored France´s lead at 7 points, 86-79, with 2 minutes remaining.

Spain valiantly tried to get the momentum back in their favour, but France were unflappable and held on for their second win of the competition.

Antoine Diot had a game high 27 points for France to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Leonard added 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Raimundo Lopez and Ricard Rubio had 22 points apiece for Spain.

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