Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Russia, Spain reach semis

AP , MADRID

France's Joseph Gomis, left, tries to score against Russia's Victor Khryapa during their FIBA Europe Basketball Championship quarter-final match at the Palacio de Deportes in Madrid on Thursday.

PHOTO: EPA

Tony Parker missed a game-tying free throw with seven seconds to play, and Russia went on to beat France 75-71 and reach the semi-finals of the European Basketball Championship for the first time in 10 years.

Parker missed his second attempt before Zakhar Pashutin made two free throws at the other end for Russia.

Parker went back to the line on the ensuing possession, making his first attempt before purposefully missing the second. But Russia grabbed the rebound and Sergey Monya hit both free throws after being fouled with one second left on the clock.

"Of course I'm -- we're -- disappointed. The semis were the minimum we were aiming for," the San Antonio Spurs guard said. "Every time you lose it's hard. You can't compare one loss to another."

Spain moved a step closer to becoming only the third team to claim the European crown while holding the world title with a 83-55 win over Germany.

Jose Calderon scored 17 to help Spain avenge a 74-73 semi-final loss to the Germans two years ago in the European Championship.

"Spain is the heavy favorite. They've got a lot going for them. They've got a lot of shooters ... we didn't fight the way we should have fought for our country," German forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "We cracked up a couple of times and didn't stick together and fight like we were supposed to fight."

Spain used its fast break to double a 13-point halftime lead to 64-38 with 1 minute, 23 seconds to go in the third quarter, limiting Nowitzki, who was averaging 24.3 points per game, to four field goals and a tournament-low 11 points.

Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro added 12 apiece for the hosts.

"We're exactly where we want to be. The team did an extraordinary job in all aspects, from covering each other on defense to getting out. It was a real team concept," Spain coach Pepu Hernandez said. "Really, there were times when you looked out on the court and saw something spectacular going on."

Parker's three-pointer with 1 minute, 26 seconds to play had tied it at 69-69, but Jon Robert Holden's two free throws on the following play put Russia ahead for good.

"He's unbelievable, an X-factor for us," Russia forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "Every time something was going wrong, JR came through."

The American-born Holden also hit two clutch three-pointers down the stretch to finish with 15 points. He also limited Parker, who missed a game-tying free throw against Slovenia in the group stage, to 15 points.

"He struggled offensively through the first three quarters but I left him on because he was doing such a good job against Tony Parker," Russia coach David Blatt said. "When the time was right he found the spot to make some big plays offensively."

Victor Khyrapa made all four three-point attempts to lead Russia with 17 points and seven rebounds. Kirilenko made up for a lousy shooting day -- two-of-11 for a tournament-low six points -- with seven steals.

Boris Diaw led France with 17 points.

Russia won the tournament 14 times as the Soviet Union but hadn't reached the last four since finishing with bronze in 1997.

Spain outscored Germany 27-8 on the fast break, capitalizing on 16 German turnovers.

After Jorge Garbajosa's jumper sparked a 8-0 run that put Spain ahead 17-8, Germany closed to 18-14, ending the period with Mihat Demirel's last-second three-point shot.

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