Tue, Sep 20, 2005 - Page 18 News List

Spain, Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia in quarterfinals

AP , BELGRADE, SERBIA-MONTENEGRO

Tony Parker, right, of France, battles Lakovic Jaka of Slovenia during the European Championships in Belgrade, Sunday. Slovenia won 68-58.

PHOTO: AFP

Slovenia, Spain, Russia and defending champion Lithuania advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Championship on Sunday.

In Tuesday's playoffs to determine the other quarterfinalists, Serbia-Montenegro plays France, Germany meets Turkey, Greece faces Israel and Croatia battles Italy.

Slovenia and Lithuania advanced with perfect 3-0 records, while Russia and Spain won their groups despite losing their final preliminary round games Sunday.

The four winners of each group advanced directly to the quarterfinals, while second- and third-place teams went into an additional playoff round to advance.

Dirk Nowitzki's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left lifted Germany to a 51-50 win over Russia -- the only time Germany led in a game marked by sloppy shooting.

Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks All-Star, finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds, despite a poor start and shooting 1-for-6 from the two-point range. But he went 5-for-12 from beyond the arc and made the points with the game on the line, while Andrei Kirilenko, Russia's Utah Jazz star, had two key turnovers late in the game.

Germany only scored 16 points in the first half -- and didn't score another basket until six minutes into the third quarter. Russia didn't shoot well either, and led by 10, before Nowitzki started hitting his shots.

Nowitzki hit two free throws to tie it at 45-45, but Russia stayed just ahead until Kirilenko slipped on the dribble and turned the ball over. Nowitzki drew a foul and made two free throws to leave Russia ahead 50-48. Kirilenko again slipped and lost the ball and Nowitzki sank the winning 3-pointer.

Victor Khryapa, who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, missed a three-point attempt on Russia's last possession. Kirilenko also had 12 points and seven rebounds, while Jon Robert Holden, a naturalized American-born point guard, had 13 points for Russia.

Despite the loss, Russia (2-1) won Group A in Vrsac, Germany (2-1) was second and Italy (2-1) was third. Italy beat winless Ukraine 99-62.

Lithuania beat winless Bulgaria 92-79 to finish undefeated in Group B Podgorica. Croatia (2-1) finished second by beating Turkey 80-67 thanks to a 29-5 third quarter.

Lithuania got 17 points from Simas Jasaitis and led by 20 by the sixth minute.

Bulgaria fought back to tie 39-39 after 17 minutes. But Lithuania again took the control despite 34 points by Bulgaria's Filip Videnov.

"We did our homework, especially in the first quarter," Lithuania coach Antanas Sireika said. "The free throws later confirmed our domination."

Nikola Vujcic of Maccabi Tel Aviv led Croatia with 20 points and Gordan Giricek of the Utah Jazz added 16.

Croatia coach Neven Spahija said his team's better defending in the third quarter decided the game. Turkey led 41-38 at halftime.

"With this game we showed that we can return to the top of the European basketball," Spahija said.

In Group C in Belgrade, Slovenia got 18 points from Jaka Lakovic in a 68-58 win over France (1-2).

Greece (2-1) took second place by beating winless Bosnia-Herzegovina 67-50. France finished third.

Rasho Nesterovic of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Slovenia.

Two San Antonio players played on opposing sides, and Tony Parker ended up on the losing team. Parker has not been a factor so far in the tournament and Sunday's game was no better. Looking uninterested, Parker finished with two points, two rebounds and one assist.

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