Sat, Sep 24, 2005 - Page 18 News List

France continues to advance during Championship play

AP , BELGRADE,

France beat defending champion Lithuania 63-47 to reach the European Championship semifinals behind 18 points and 11 rebounds from Boris Diaw on Thursday.

Tony Parker, the point guard for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, guided France to a showdown with Greece in Saturday's semifinals.

"I did everything with the Spurs, two rings," Parker said. "Now I want to do something with the national team."

Greece beat Russia 66-61 thanks to 23 points from Theodoros Papaloukas.

In the quarterfinals, Slovenia plays Germany, and Croatia meets Spain.

France knocked out world champion Serbia-Montenegro in the previous round.

"With every new match we've picked up our game," Diaw said. "This was our fourth and this was our best. It's better not to be the favorite but to be the challenger."

Parker added 11 points and five assists, while Antoine Rigaudeau also had 11 points.

France finished the first half up 32-16 and Lithuania, usually a high-scoring team, had missed all nine 3-point attempts.

Twins Ksistof and Darjus Lavrinovic provided some scoring punch for Lithuania after the break with Ksistof hitting the team's first 3-pointer and Darjus scoring eight straight points at the end of the third quarter as Lithuania pulled within eight.

But Diaw scored on a jumper, Parker claimed the next five points and France ran away. Rigaudeau and Parker made four free throws each for the final score. Center Frederic Weis added 11 rebounds and five points for France.

Papaloukas, a point guard for CSKA Moscow, scored the last 10 points for Greece, which rallied from an early 11-point deficit to reach the last four for the first time since 1997.

Greece coach Panagiotis Yannakis praised his team for "exceptional play against a tough opponent."

Papaloukas shot 6-for-7 from 2-point range, and went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Russia's NBA star Andrei Kirilenko finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists, two steals and five turnovers.

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