Malela Mutuale-Balume got the game winner in the last second of overtime to give France a 64-63 win over Israel in a thrilling encounter at Rethimnon tonight.
The win means that France and Serbia head into tomorrow’s game as the two undefeated teams in Group B with Israel and the Czech Republic both winless.
France made extra work of squeezing out a win as they took a 47-42 lead on Leo Westmermann’s three-pointer with three minutes left in regulation.
Israel came back and tied the game on Daniel Tamir’s lay up before going ahead 50-47 on a pair of free-throws by Eitan Guil Herme Rotemberg with 22 seconds left.
However, France’s Remi Dibo made one free-throw and Ribar Baikoua scored a lay-up with three seconds left to play but failed to convert the three-point play and the game went to overtime.
Westermann made two three-pointers, the second one to edge Tahar Assed Liegeon’s men ahead 61-58 but again Israel came back and took the lead 63-62 on a pair of free-throws by Amihay Wolf with seven seconds on the clock.
But that was enough time for Mutuale-Balume to create a good shot opportunity and deliver for France.
Meanwhile, Serbia needed a strong fourth quarter to see off the Czech Republic 65-54 in.
The game was close for the first three quarters with Dragan Vascanin’s men taking a one-point lead at the end of the first period, 17-16, before the teams went in tied at 32 all at the break.
Serbia looked to have come out the stronger side after half time as they jumped to a 42-34 lead on Branislav Djekic’s basket but the Czech Republic rallied and stayed within striking distance at 45-41 on a pair of free-throws by Tomas Satoransky with four minutes left in the third period.
But Vascanin’s men stayed aggressive and quickly got their lead to reach double-digits, 55-45, on a lay up by Djekic.
That advantage eventually grew to 17, 64-47, on a pair of free-throws by Nikola Vukasovic before Jan Svejda made a basket and converted a pair of free-throws as the Jan Ulrych’s men scored seven of the game’s last eight points
Serbia were led by Djekic’s 12 points and 10 rebounds while Satoransky was the game’s top scorer with 16 points for the Czech Republic.