|Timothé Luwawu delivered some spectacular plays for France|
France emerged victorious 66-65 from an agonising finale to their U20 European Championship Monday clash with Italy to remain at the top of Second Round Group F, tied with Turkey.
Turning Point: Simone Fontecchio's free throw with 1:12 remaining that reduced France's lead to 66-65 was followed by an action-packed final minute in which both sides failed to deal the lethal blow, as they were either losing possession or seeing the ball slip off their hands. Italy intercepted a Timothé Luwawu pass with just over a second remaining and the ball fell on Aristide Landi but his desperation three-point shot from almost the half-court line did not drop in.
Game Hero: Axel Bouteille scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and propelled France to a 31-23 lead just before the half-time buzzer, the biggest lead by either team in the game. But it was Luwawu's energy and 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, including two spectacular put-back dunks, that helped France remain in the driver's seat throughout the second half and until the agonising end.
Stats Don't Lie: France used their size advantage quite well at least on their end of the floor, bringing down 27 defensive boards to deny Italy any chance of scoring after a miss. They were however guilty of 19 turnovers, although Italy failed to capitalise on them after recovering possession and only scored 13 points. France was much more efficient in this aspect, scoring 15 points off 14 Italian turnovers.
The Bottom Line: France find themselves in a situation similar to that of Turkey, in that their 3-0 record gives them a huge advantage in the race to the quarter-finals. Italy have dropped to 0-3 and face a crucial duel with Poland on Tuesday.