|03 August 2008|
France released a loud and clear public statement tonight by eliminating Serbia in the fight for the top of Group D in a double-digit 83-69 win.
The win allows France to continue to the next round with two wins thanks to a perfect 3-0 record, while Serbia dropped to 2-1 and will hope this will be their first and last loss in the competition.
The U19 World Champion team from Serbia chased after France the entire game, and even when they got closer towards the half, felt a rain of 30 French points in the third quarter that decided the game.
Abdoulaye Mbaye led France with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists, Ludovic Vaty scored 18 with eight rebounds and three blocks while Edwin Jackson had 13.
Dusan Katnic and Milan Macvan scored 11 points to lead a list of seven players who scored eight points or more.
"It was a very important win for us, also on the mentally side, because we wanted to revenge Serbia for the loss in the U19 World Championship last year," confessed Head Coach Richard Billant.
Mbaye was hot from the start as France took a 7-2 advantage. Moerman and Mbaye connected from long range to make it a 17-6 game after one quarter, but Serbia was right there to strike back.
Boban Marjanovic and Katnic combined points from long and close distance to make it just a one point game, as Serbia stayed close and entered the locker-room down by a point, 30-29.
A three pointer by Jeremic moved Serbia to minus three, 40-37, half way in the third, but Mbaye again and Vaty with big plays around the rim made the difference.
Diot was the conductor and Mbaye nailed a big three-ball just before the buzzer to seal the third with a 60-44 French lead.
"We wanted to control the paint and run fast, and that's what we did," he commented regarding the 44-31 French lead in rebounds.
"I want to congratulate my players. They executed everything we spoke about this morning. That was the best defensive job we showed in the three games so far. We just need to continue to play like this and win the rest of the games."
Serbia wasn't ready to give up yet and two long range aces brought them only seven point shy with eight minutes on the game clock, but Jackson and Vaty once again combined 11 unanswered points to close the coffin on Serbia's hopes.