Last night France lost by 41 points against Lithuania, but today showed they have the mental toughness to recover quickly with a big 75-51 win over Slovenia in Group E of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship at the Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday afternoon.
France earned their first win in the Qualifying Round and jumped to a 1-3 record still in the race for the quarter-finals spot. Slovenia is now sharing the same 1-3 record and will try to make things happen tomorrow in their last chance.
|Thomas Ceci showed up sharp to boost France in their win over Slovenia|
Mathis Keita was the top scorer, rebounder and passer for France with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Thomas Ceci added 15 points in his best game of the competition.
Marko Pajic led Slovenia in both points - 11 and rebounds - 6.
Slovenia weren't ready for the French blitz and trailed by 18 at the half time break.
Their first free throw came only in the 32nd minute, late when the game was already long decided.
"I think we weren't mentally ready for this game," said Slovenia's coach Aleksander Sekulic.
"We still celebrated today the big win over Latvia today, and when you do that in the European Championship you pay.
"Today we lacked our aggressiveness and didn't attack the basket as we can, and it hurt us."
It was actually Slovenia who enjoyed the better start with an early 3-10 lead, but saw France run 16-2 and finish the first quarter with a 21-14 lead.
Ceci was on fire in the 2nd quarter hitting 9 points while the entire side of Slovenia collected 12, and dropped to an aching 44-26 score after 20 minutes.
Keita stepped up and showed his big arsenal with points from the arc and a dunk in between to make the gap increase even more, leaving Slovenia to lick their wounds, hopefully in time before the games tomorrow.
France will take on Poland in hope to spring an upset, while Slovenia will meet Spain.