Late Flourish Fires France Into Semis

15 September 2011

EUROBASKET 2011

Turning Point: Greece held a five-point lead early in the final period and were keeping a lid on Tony Parker but things changed and the guard began to exert his influence as France took control with a commanding 16-5 run.

Game Heroes: Nando De Colo and Nicolas Batum both posted efficient numbers. The former had 16 points on 6-of-8 floor shooting while the latter finished with 15 points making 6 of 9 from the field.

Stats Don't Lie: Greece probably needed to make outside shots to stretch France and win the game but only managed to make 3 of 21 from downtown.



A far from convincing France left it late but eventually slipped past Greece to punch their semi-final ticket.

In a game where defence was definitely king, the French struggled for long periods against a Greek team which made life difficult until they came alive in the last ten minutes, to secure a 64-56 success.

Greece got off to a flying start and after two minutes found themselves seven points ahead.

French coach Vincent Collet was calling a quick time-out with his team yet to score.

While it was followed by a Tony Parker jump-shot and vicious dunk by Nicolas Batum, France continued to labour and it was all they could harvest in seven minutes.

While Greece were playing the kind of defence Illias Zouros craves, they were also performing offensively too. A triple by Antonios Fotsis helped to open up an early double digit lead at 15-4.

However France responded at both ends of the floor, holding Greece to a solitary basket during the last four minutes of the period with a 10-2 run making it a one-shot game heading into the second quarter

Greece immediately opened up some daylight again at 21-14, but France rattled off seven points in a row. Defensively, neither team were allowing the other to establish any kind of a rhythm.

Joakim Noah had missed his first six attempts and a dunk in traffic showed his frustration although it was a similarly emphatic dunk by Ioannis Bourousis which ended the half, with his team 31-27 ahead.

Defences continued to dominate during the third quarter but with Bourousis continuing his good work, which eventually resulted in him claiming a double-double, Greece stretched their advantage to 39-32.

They were also managing to keep the shackles on the dangerous Parker although it didn't last much longer. He subsequently brought France level and while a three-pointer from Nick Calathes and free-throws by Kostas Koufos made it 45-40 early in the final quarter, he was at the heart of a French revival.

Les Bleus posted a devastating 16-5 run to take control with four minutes remaining although with five fouls already committed, Greece still had a glimmer of hope.

They tried hard to regain the initiative and narrowed to 56-54 with two minutes left but France kept their cool in crunch time to close out the game.


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