|Damien Inglis came up big for France as Lithuania threatened to come back|
France survived a courageous Lithuanian comeback to win its U18 European Championship opener 67-58 in Ventspils on Thursday.
France raced away to a strong first half lead by utilising its noticeable size and athleticism advantage, pressuring the Lithuanians into a number of easy misses around the ring and uncharacteristic turnovers from active defence.
The dominant French first half set up a thrilling third quarter as Lithuania stormed back into the game to cut a 16-point deficit down to three.
Lithuania continued to advance and took the lead in the fourth quarter, but with the game on the line, France turned to the calming presence of Charly Pontens, Damien Inglis and Axel Bouteille to regain its composure before eventually running out comfortable winners.
Pontens led France with 19 points, providing aggressive play from the point guard position while Bouteille scored 14 and collect six rebounds off the bench.
Domantas Sabonis' 19-point, 16-rebound game was the standout performance from Lithuania.