France To Face Lithuania In Semi-Final

11 September 2003

Boris Diaw (France)
France withstood a late rally by Russia to reach the semi-finals at the European Championships and they were joined by Lithuania who knocked off holders Serbia & Montenegro.

The French, silver medallists at the last Olympics, are now a new cast of players and they claimed a 76-69 triumph over Russia.

France stretched a three-point lead at half-time to 10 points after three quarters and that advantage grew to 15 in the final frame.

Russia, in a desperate attempt to cut into that deficit, began to press fullcourt and mounted a late fightback.

Tony Parker and Larry Bird
Andrei Kirilenko and company twice closed the gap to four points, at 70-66 and 73-69.

But Les Bleus held on with Moustapha Sonko converting five of six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

A good sign for Les Bleus is that they managed to win despite their leading man, point guard Tony Parker, being nowhere near his best.

Parker led the French with 18 points, but the San Antonio Spur turned the ball over six times in 35 minutes and made just five of 14 shots from the floor, including two of five from three-point range.

Parker was also just six of 11 from the free throw line.

Kirilenko had a game-high 22 points for the Russians, who were out-rebounded by the physical and extremely athletic French 40-32.

Lithuania will take them on after beating the world champions, Serbia & Montenegro, 96-82.

The Baltic side, a young group who captured a bronze medal at the last Olympics after coming within a whisker of upsetting the United States, failed to make an impact at the World Championships last summer.

But they are now just two wins shy of striking gold here in Stockholm.

Sarunas Jasikevicius had an outstanding game with 21 points and 11 assists
They jumped on the Serbo-Montenegrins early and kept the pressure on throughout.

Serbia & Montenegro, forced to play without star Predrag Stojakovic because of an ankle injury he suffered against Turkey in the elimination round, had already qualified for the Olympics by winning the world title last summer.

Lithuania put 30 points on the board in the first quarter and led by 11 before extending that to 14 at half-time.

Ramunas Siskauskas, Lithuania's top scorer in the tournament, propelled his side with 27 points.

Lithuania forced 17 turnovers and they shot the ball well from the charity stripe, making 19 of 22.

Without Sacramento Kings star Stojakovic, the defending champions got five players in double figures with centre Djuro Ostojic pouring in 17 points - well above his average of seven in the first four games.

Spain take on Israel and Greece face Italy in the other quarter-finals on Thursday.


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