Spain, Britain, France Win At Euro Championship
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — San Antonio spurs star Tony Parker scored 28 points Sunday to lead France past Ukraine 77-71 and into the second round of the European basketball championship.
Earlier, Finland edged Russia 86-83 in double overtime to also earn a place in the second round. Finland trailed in both regulation and the first overtime.
The defeat means an early exit for Russia, the bronze medalist at the London Olympics last year and at the Europeans two years ago. The Russians were without Andrei Kirilenko and several other stars.
Italy stayed perfect after four games with a 81-72 victory over previously unbeaten Greece, with Marco Belinelli scoring 23 points. Both teams joined Finland in advancing from that group.
In Jesenice, Serbia beat Latvia 80-71 behind 25 points from center Nenad Krstic to advance.
In the late games, Lithuania defeated Montenegro 77-70 in overtime in Jesenice and Croatia defeated Slovenia 76-74 in overtime. Turkey downed Sweden 87-74 in a match between two eliminated teams in Koper, while Israel stopped Belgium 87-69 for its first victory in Ljubljana.
Ukraine stayed with France until the fourth quarter, when Parker took over. He connected with two jumpers and then sank a 3-pointer to help the French pull away. Parker scored 13 of his team’s last 17 points. France was runner-up two years ago.
“We kept fighting and in the fourth quarter we found the solutions,” Parker said after his 50th game in a European championship. “I try to lead the team and to help the young players. When you are playing must-win games, you have to be disciplined, serious. We’ll raise our level in the second round.”
Pooh Jeter finished with 20 points for Ukraine, which is on the verge of qualifying.
In Celje, Jan Vesely had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Czech Republic in a 95-79 victory over Georgia. Tomas Satoransky added 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists as the Czechs stayed in contention while eliminating Georgia.
“When you put him (Satoransky) together with Jan Vesely, you have a killer combination,” veteran Czech guard Jiri Welsch said. “We’re sure happy to have that on our team.”
Captain Krstic said his team dedicated the victory to 18-year-old Serbian women’s basketball player Natasa Kovacevic, whose leg was amputated after a bus carrying her Hungarian team crashed Saturday.
“We are all affected by this tragedy and she was in our thoughts tonight,” Krstic said.
Elsewhere, Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol scored 15 points apiece to lead defending champion Spain to an overwhelming 89-53 victory over winless Poland in Celje.
Five Spanish players scored in double figures in their team’s third victory in four games. Spain led 49-13 at halftime and led by as many as 48 points before slowing in the second half.
Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Macedonia 62-54 and Britain eliminated Germany with an 81-73 victory. Bosnia is now 2-2 while Macedonia fell to 1-3 as the semifinalist from two years ago is on the verge of being eliminated. Top three teams from each group advance.
In Ljubljana, Devon van Oostrum’s 3-pointer with 50 seconds left gave Britain a seven-point lead and secured the victory. Britain, still not certain to advance, got 23 points from Andrew Lawrence and 21 points and 11 rebounds from Myles Hesson and is 2-2. Tibor Pleiss had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Germany, which fell to 1-3.
In Koper, Hanno Mottola sank a 3-pointer for Finland with three seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Mottola put in a tip-in and Gerald Lee’s layup again tied the game at the end of the first overtime.
Sergey Monya’s 3-pointer made it 82-82, before Lee dunked and made one of two free throws for a three-point Finland lead. Monya then missed one free throw and Sasu Salin made on for Finland. Russia called a timeout with six seconds remaining but Monya came out to miss a 3-point attempt and Finland had the win.
Shawn Huff led Finland with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Salin and Tuukka Kotti had 12 points and 10 rebounds each. Finland also got 11 points and 11 assists from Petteri Koponen.
In Jesenice, Mirza Teletovic had 22 points and Zackary Wright pulled down 12 rebounds for Bosnia, which outscored Macedonia 12-2 in the last five minutes. Bo McCalebb led Macedonia with 19 points but made some bad plays late in the game. Pero Antic had 17 points.
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