by Dan Casey
|Lorenzo Baldasso and Italy had to accept defeat against a determined France squad|
A strong second-half defensive effort saw France beat Italy 76-56 and improve to 3-0 in Qualifying Round Group F.
An exciting first quarter ended with France edging ahead 19-18 on a reverse lay-up by Damien Inglis. The French team pushed ahead in the second quarter, but Alessandro Spatti scored at the half-time buzzer to make the score 45-39, a 6-point lead for France.
But after the break, the French defense allowed only 17 points. Italy didn't score for the first four minutes of the second half, and France pulled clear. Arthur Rozenfeld hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter to put France 60-48 ahead, and Italy could never get close in the final period.
After the game, coach Tahar Assed-Liegeon was proud of his team's defense: "It's the spirit of our team, it's our foundation."
Inglis led the French team with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Coach Assed-Liegeon told FIBA Europe that the rest of the team relies on Inglis as an experienced leader. "He has a big personality, he's a friend for everyone, he's very important for us."
Spatti led Italy with 13 points on 6-8 shooting. Italy will play Ukraine tomorrow at 15:45 looking for their first win of the Qualifying Round.