|Boris Dallo made the game-winner for France three seconds from the final buzzer|
France eked out a 77-76 triumph over Bulgaria in a memorable Group D encounter that featured 21 lead changes and saw the scores tied on 13 occasions, in Day 2 action at the U20 European Championship.
Turning Point: Bulgaria's Nikolay Stoyanov, who was 9-of-9 from the foul line in the tournament up until that moment, split two free throws and gave his team a 76-75 lead with 20 seconds remaining. Boris Dallo drove to the Bulgarian basket and finished at the rim to bring France ahead, 77-76, with three seconds left to play. Bulgaria called a time-out and drew a short play for Denislav Vutev, who had collected 21 points on the night, but the Bulgarian center's shot was blocked by Mouhammadou Jaiteh, almost as the final buzzer was sounding.
Game Hero: Although Jaiteh was the one to come up with the crucial intervention, France would probably not have been in the position to win this tight game were it not for Dallo's excellent offensive contribution. The guard finished with 21 points, including of course the game winner, on 8-for-14 from the floor, added three rebounds and three assists and did not commit a single turnover.
Stats Don't Lie: Despite the fact France struggled to contain Bulgaria's frontcourt duo of Aleksandar Vezenkov and Vutev, who combined for 45 points and 21 rebounds, and conceded 46 points in the paint, few Bulgarian shots went uncontested. France blocked five shots (Bulgaria none) and this belief they can intercept any shot proved crucial at the end.
The Bottom Line: France would have been dealt a huge blow had they lost a second consecutive game at the buzzer but, as it stands, they come out of Wednesday's thriller with renewed optimism. Bulgaria have seen their star forward Vezenkov deliver according to or even beyond expectations, but have lost two close games and face a do-or-die clash with Russia on Thursday.