Strong fourth period puts France in semis

France have become the third team to qualify for the semi-finals following a 64-56 win over Greece in Kaunas.

 

 

Tony Parker led all scorers with 18 points with Nando De Colo recording 16 points and going 75% from the field.

Greece were led by Ioannis Bourousis, who was the only Greek player in double-figures with 17, and he also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Despite positive showings in the first three quarters, Greece fell apart in the fourth, losing the last ten minutes, 24-13 allowing France to go through.

“Great, we were able to make it to the semi-final which is exactly where we wanted to be,” Boris Diaw said after the game.

Greece were on top in the first quarter, a Nick Calathes three, repeated by Antonis Fotis gave Greece a 15-4 lead with 3.16 left in the first.

France’s shots were not dropping, they only connected on two of their first nine shots, but they hit back. A Nando De Colo triple narrowed the gap to 15-12, forcing Greece coach Ilias Zouros to call a timeout.

The Greeks held on to lead 17-12 after the first period.

It seemed like the wind had been knocked out of Hellas though, as France levelled the match at 21 thanks to a driving lay-up from De Colo. Hellas responded though. Buckets from Nikolaos Zisis, and Bourousis put them 25-21 up.

Zisis though, was quiet, only scoring six points and missing all four of his three-point attempts.

Joakim Noah, who had been a strong presence inside throughout the first half, hammered home to narrow the gap to 25-23.

Bourousis though re-paid the favour on the buzzer to extend Greece’s lead at the interval to 31-27.

The third lacked highlights, Parker and De Colo could only manage two points between them, that two-pointer though tied the game at 40, as Parker broke away in transition to score. Nick Calathes answered with a triple to give his side a 43-40 lead heading to the final quarter.

It was here that France took charge as Greece became too reliant on their long range shooting. Parker hit back-to-back buckets to give the French a 49-45 lead.

France never looked back.

“That was a tough game and we are happy to have won it,” France’s Florent Pietrus commented. “We were slow in the beginning because the Greek team made us play slow. But at the end, we made a difference.”