Diot Drives France Into Semis

By David Hein

Antoine Diot had a tremendous all-around game and Lamine Sambe scored 12 points to lead France into the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship with a convincing 68-47 victory over Montenegro.

Diot collected 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Fernando Raposo had nine points and 13 rebounds for Jean-Aymi Toupane's French.

"This was a very good game for us. We defended very hard and that was the key for us," said Diot, who also had four steals, a block and just two turnovers in 31 minutes.

The French rebounded well from their only loss of the competition against Spain two days ago.

"It was good for us to lose one time to see that we can get beat and come back from it," said Diot.

France now face off against the winner of Lithuania and Italy in the semi-finals.

"We want to play very hard on defense and will play tough against whoever we play," added Diot.

Montenegro were led by Nikola Vucevic, who tallied 20 points and 13 rebounds. Sead Sehovic meanwhile was the second-leading scorer with nine points on just 2 of 11 shooting.

Montenegro struggled offensively early, falling behind 10-2 and didn't score their first basket until nearly halfway through the first quarter. But Sehovic and Vucevic pulled Dejan Radonjic's team within 17-14 after one period.

The second quarter started with Thomas Heurtel converting a three-point play and Carl Ona-Embo knocking down two three-balls as the lead grew to 28-17. Vucevic was the only Montenegro player to do anything offensively but it was not enough as Toupane's Les Bleus built the cushion to 13 points and led 35-24 at the break.

Sambe scored six points in France's 10-2 run out of the changing room. And then Diot and Ona-Embo knocked down three-balls later in the third for a 55-39 lead after three periods.

And Heurtel finished off the Montenegrins early in the fourth quarter with three-pointers from both corners in pushing the lead back to 18 points - 61-43.


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