Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Lithuania remain unbeaten in Euros

BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP Efforts to neutralize France's NBA star Tony Parker bore fruit for Lithuania, who will face Slovenia today for the top spot in Group F


Lithuania limited Tony Parker to 11 points and defeated three-time champion France 88-73 on Monday to remain one of two unbeaten teams at the European Basketball Championship.

Sarunas Jasikevicius had 14 points and seven assists, and set up Ramunas Siskauskas and Darius Songaila for key baskets.

"They were stronger than us, that's it," said Parker, who was held 14 points below his tournament average.

Also in Group F, Marco Belinelli scored six of his 17 points in overtime to help Italy eliminate Turkey 84-75.

Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani had five of his 12 points in the extra period, as Italy overcame an early 15-point deficit.

"All of the game the team was waiting for Bargnani, and in overtime he showed he knows how to score and Turkey froze," Italy coach Carlo Recalcati said.

Turkey, which cannot advance to the quarter-finals after losing both of its second-round games, was led by 34 points from Hidayet Turkoglu.

Lithuania next plays Slovenia today for top spot in Group F. France, which already beat Germany, plays last-place Turkey in its final game. The winner between Italy and Germany will take the final berth from the group in the quarter-finals.

Jasikevicius hit a key 3-pointer at 8:34 of the fourth period to push Lithuania's lead back to double digits with France threatening.

But with Lithuania denying the ball to Parker, the French looked lost. It forced passes and often was left with poor opportunities as the shot clock expired -- particularly in the final two minutes.

"They played us very well and very aggressive. They pressed Tony Parker well and stopped him from finding his spots," France coach Claude Bergeaud said. "We were not ready to play tonight. We couldn't get into our offense like we did against Germany."

Though Parker played for 30 minutes, the San Antonio Spurs guard said that he never felt comfortable.

"I wanted to shoot more often, believe me, the problem was trying to get them off," he said. "They didn't give me many looks."

In the first half, Lithuania went on a 24-4 run to open up a 20-point lead. But France replied with an 8-0 run to start the third quarter, with Florent Pietrus scoring five straight points.

France soon closed within five, but Jasikevicius set up Simas Jasaitis for a three-point play and then Siskauskas in the lane as Lithuania stretched its lead to 68-56 late in the third.

"You see how difficult it is to win here -- I just hope at the right time we can come through with our form and win," Jasikevicius said. "Whoever makes it to the quarters can beat anyone."

Belinelli made two free throws to push Italy ahead 76-75 against Turkey in overtime before Bargnani's 3-pointer stretched the lead to four points, and he later made two free throws with 1:09 left.

With the score tied 68-68 with 20 seconds in regulation, Turkoglu made two free throws. Massimo Bulleri then evened the score with two more free throws, and Ibrahim Kutluay's last-second 3-point attempt was short.

"We lacked execution. We lacked the big moment, especially when it came to hitting the 3-pointer," Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic said.

Like Lithuania, Slovenia won its fifth in as many games, routing Germany 77-47 -- a result that qualified France for the quarter-finals.

Ademola Okulaja's 3-pointer gave Germany its only lead against Slovenia, 3-2, just 1:02 after the opening tip.

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