France beats Croatia for 5th spot

ImageIn a game without any special interest, as both teams had reached qualification for the World Championship 2010, France beat Croatia for the fifth spot at the Eurobasket 2009.

Key players sat out for both teams due to minor injuries or in order to be proteceted, namely Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Florent Pietrus for France, and Roko-Leni Ukic, Zoran Planinic and Mario Stojic for Croatia. So the way was clear for Nando De Colo to take charge for the French in the openning quarter, as he had 12 points to help the French side take a 9-point lead after ten minutes (21-12).

The French stayed dry for four minutes in the second quarter, while Croatia utilized a 8-0 run to come within a one point range. As Croatia couldn't continue their streak, France run a 9-0 side-score themselves, including a buzzer-beating, half-court three-pointer by Diot, to go to the intermission with a 10-point lead (34-24).

France's lead grew even to 15 points in the third quarter behind big shots by Antoine Diot and Nando De Colo, but Croatia reacted and scored the last 10 points of the quarter, to go into the final period down by only five (46-41).

Croatia cut France's lead to mere one point early in the last period, but the French were not prepared to let this one go and answered with a 9-3 run and fought back every comeback attempt by the Croatians till the end of the game.

France 69 – 62 Croatia

France: Diot 18, Batum 8, Jeanneau, Koffi 8, Mahinmi 6, Parker, Bokolo, 6, Pietrus, De Colo 15, Diaw, Turiaf 2, Traore 6

Croatia: Ukic, Kus 18, Popovic 6, Vujcic, Prkacin, Rozic 11, Planinic, Stojic, Loncar 3, Banic 5, Nicevic 12, Kasun 7

Game quotes:

Jasmin Repesa (Croatia Coach):

"It was a hard game for us, because it followed two very important matches we had – against Slovenia in the Quarter-Finals and yesterday against Russia, when we won and qualified for World Championship. I had less players available today, so our rotation was shorter than usual and it's difficult to play like this against such an athletic team as France."

Roko-Leni Ukic (Croatia):

"It was a hard match, mostly because this game had no importance. Some teammates today got more minutes than usual because of a shorter rotation. Before tournament started we definitely expected more, but we made progress and advanced to World Championship for next year. It was a very tough championship, because teams were very equal. We had our chance to do more in the Quarte-Final game, but we didn't take it."

Vincent Collet (France Coach):

"We played today without Boris Diaw and Tony Parker, and Ronny Turiaf played for only nine minutes. But other players did their best, worked hard and once again showed the spirit of our team. We gave our best here, but unfortunately we had to play against Spain in the Quarter-Finals. We also didn't play well that game. We have to keep working hard and try to improve our game, especially offensively."

Ian Mahinmi (France):

"It feels great to finish this campaign with a win. We had a great chemistry on the team here. For me playing here was something new, it's a different game, different referees and you just have to try and adjust to it."