Group A: Slovenia Outwit France, Serbia Outclass Hungary

07 July 2007

For the second straight day, Jan Mocnik made two late free throws to lead co-hosts Slovenia to a victory at the U20 European Championship Men, this time beating France 84-78 on Saturday to remain perfect at 2-0 in Group A.

Mocnik made two free throws with 12 seconds remaining to give Slovenia an 82-78 lead just a day after his two foul shots with 6.4 seconds brought victory against reigning champions Serbia.

"He was quiet in himself and he made the shots for the second straight game. But one game he can win, another someone else can win for us," said Slovenia coach Miro Alilovic of Mocnik.

"But today we won with good defence in the second half - our zone defence. That decided the game."

Slovenia frustrated France's outside shooters, allowing them to make just two of 22 three-pointers. Alilovic's defence also limited the French to just seven assists for the game while getting to the charity line much more often, 26-of-38 to 18-of-23 for the French.
Aurelien Salmon (France)
Aurelien Salmon's 12 points and six rebounds were not enough for France


"This is a big success for Slovenian basketball. Before the European Championship we had the aim of going into the Qualifying Round with only one loss, so we've already achieved our goal," Alilovic added.

Dejan Mlakar led five Slovenia players in double figures scoring with 18 points. Mocnik had 17 points while Gasper Vidmar added 14, Jaka Klobucar 12 and Matej Krusic chipped in 10 off the bench.

The French were led by 20 points from Cheikh Ibrahima Koma with Aurelien Salmon scoring 12 and Aldo Curti and Martin Le Pellec each hitting for 10.

The teams were even throughout the first half, with Slovenia ahead 21-17 after one period and 41-40 at half-time. The co-hosts began pulling away in the third period, opening a nine-point lead 64-53 after three quarters.

Mocnik's lay-up with 6:12 made it 70-59 for the biggest lead of the game. The French found their way back into the game with Salmon hitting a three-pointer with 38 seconds left and Nando De Colo's three foul shots with 21 seconds to make it 80-78.

That set up Mocnik's heroics and Aaron Cel missed a three-point attempt with five seconds left and Mlakar finished the game with a lay-up at the buzzer.

The French are now 1-1 ahead of their Sunday showdown with Serbia.  Slovenia play against Hungary on Sunday.

In the late Group A match, defending champions Serbia rebounded from their loss against Slovenia by clobbering Hungary 84-40.

Serbia allowed just three points in the first quarter (20-3 lead) and led 40-3 as Hungary made just one of their first 25 shots. Hungary trailed 44-12 at half-time and played with Serbia for most of the second half.

Marko Djurkovic paced the Serbs with 19 points and Dragan Labovic added 14, while Kornel Kiss and Gergely Baki each had 11 points for Hungary.

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