France got big efforts from Nancy forward Nicolas Batum and point guard Tony Parker to hold off Russia 79-71 on Friday and advance to the EuroBasket 2011 title game. Les Bleus will meet Spain for the crown after it rode former Euroleague MVP and FC Barcelona Regal guard Juan Carlos Navarro to beat FYR of Macedonia 92-80 in the earlier semifinal. Both France and Russia qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London with their victories. France and Russia were knotted at 45-45 midway through the third quarter before France made its move. Russia continued to battle, but ran out of time. Parker scored 22 for the winners and Batum added 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Navarro roared for 35 points to lead Spain, in a game that was tight until the Barca bomber took over with 19 third-quarter points. In the afternoon game, Greece clinched a spot at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament by topping Serbia 87-77 behind 27 points from Ioannis Bourousis of EA7 Emporio Armani Milano.
Spain 92-80 FYR of Macedonia
Former Euroleague MVP and FC Barcelona Regal guard Juan Carlos Navarro roared for 35 points to lead Spain over FYR of Macedonia 92-80 and into the EuroBasket 2011 final. The victory also ensured Spain a berth at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The game was a nail-biter for the better part of two-and-a-half quarters. But Navarro exploded in the third and Spain finally broke away. Navarro outscored the entire FYROM team 19-17 in the third quarter, which ended at 71-62. And FYROM never got closer than 8 the rest of the way. Navarro’s 35-point output was the second-most of any player all tournament. In addition, Pau Gasol shined with 22 points and 17 rebounds and his brother Marc added 11 and 10. Bo McCalebb of Montepaschi Siena paced FYROM with 25 points and 5 assists. Pero Antic added 17 points and 9 rebounds in defeat. FYROM will play again on Sunday in the third-place game, hours before Spain takes the floor for the final.
A three-pointer by Anadolu Efes guard Vlado Ilievski and a dunk by Predrag Samardziski of Lietuvos Rytas gave FYROM early lead at 4-5. The Gasol brothers stepped up to help Spain regain the lead, 10-11. Serge Ibaka came off the bench and threw down back-to-back dunks to keep Spain ahead, 15-13. McCalebb found his first points on a wild reverse layup and a big triple by Pero Antic gave FYROM the lead, 17-18. Navarro answered from downtown and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by All-Euroleague guard Sergio Llull of Real Madrid gave Spain a 26-18 margin after 10 minutes. Pau Gasol’s first points gave Spain a double-digit lead at the start of the second quarter. FYROM started making its way back with scores from Ilievski and McCalebb. The latter darted through the Spanish defense a second time to close the gap to 31-27, which led to Spanish coach Sergio Scariolo calling a timeout. Vojdan Stojanovski hit a tough jumper and then Damjan Stojanovski bettered his brother with a three from the corner to cap a 3-14 run, which put FYROM ahead 31-32. Navarro came to Spain’s rescue with a triple. Soon Jose Calderon followed with a triple as Spain started to rebuild a working cushion. McCalebb and Antic remained thorns in Spain’s side. And then Ilievski knotted the score and then put FYROM back ahead, 42-43, from the line. Pau Gasol and Ilievski scored on their team’s last possessions to leave it 44-45 at the half.
The lead changed hands with practically every basket in the opening minutes of the second half. Navarro was on fire and carrying Spain, while Ilievski and McCalebb continued to push the Macedonians. A Navarro triple pushed Spain ahead to 63-58, which marked the first multi-possession lead for either team in the second half. Navarro added 2 more from the line and soon after a running three-pointer to beat the shot-clock buzzer that brought a roar from the Spanish fans and made it 68-60. Ilievski got a basket back for FYROM, but Navarro nailed one more triple – giving him 19 points in the quarter – to give Spain a 71-62 lead at the end of the quarter. Navarro single-handedly outscored FYROM in that period. FYROM showed it still believed as Samardziski went up strong for the first basket of the fourth quarter. However a fresh Ibaka came off the bench and soon had Spain up by 11. The McCalebb-Antic duo brought FYROM within 8 again, but a basket for each of the Gasol brothers on the offensive glass kept Spain firmly in control. FYROM again closed within 8 only to see Navarro reach 30 individual points with a fade-away jumper with two-and-a-half minutes to go. Navarro tacked on a few more points as Spain celebrated the closing minutes and began thinking about Sunday’s final.
France 79-71 Russia
Nicolas Batum starred with a fine line – 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists – as France held off Russia 79-71 to advance to Sunday’s EuroBasket final. The win also qualified les Bleus to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The game was knotted at 45-45 midway through the third quarter before Batum, with some help from Lokomotiv Kuban big man Ali Traore, helped France move ahead. The French lead reached double figures early in the fourth quarter and Russia never got closer than 6 after that. Parker finished with 22 points for France, which was an impressive 7 of 12 (58.3%) from downtown and outrebounded Russia 35-21. Andrei Kirilenko paced Russia with 21 points and Timofey Mozgov added 12. The loss was Russia’s first at the event.
Boris Diaw used a nifty move to open the scoring for France, but Kirilenko drove through the paint and dunked with authority as Russia looked to assert itself. Lokomotiv Kuban guard Sergey Bykov started to heat up early with a three-pointer and a layup, Diaw remained a focal point for France and made it 8-9. Tony Parker hit a three and then penetrated for a score to put France up 13-11, however Kirilenko answered from downtown. Charles Kahudi of Le Mans found a hole in the Russian defense and attacked it for a two-handed slam. Alexey Shved countered with 2 from the line before Parker sliced his way to the hoop for a buzzer-beating layup to make it 17-16 after 10 minutes. Great ball movement from Russia resulted in a Semen Antonov slam at the start of the second quarter as the lead continued to change hands with great regularity. Le Mans forward Nicolas Batum scored a wild basket-plus-foul before an Antonov jumper tied the game at 20-20. Mickael Gelabale came off the bench and scored in transition to make it 24-20, but then gave some back with an unsportsmanlike foul on CSKA Moscow forward Viktor Khryapa. BC Khimki forward Sergey Monya added a triple and Kirilenko handed off the Khryapa as Russia surged ahead to a 26-27 edge. Valencia Basket scorer Nando De Colo found the hot hand for France with a pair of scores, but Kirilenko shined in between with a high-flying alley-oop bucket. Kirilenko threw down another big slam, but Batum bettered him with a triple to stretch the French lead to 36-31. Parker added a three to cap an 11-2 run as les Bleus threatened to pull away. But Vitaly Fridzon of BC Khimki countered with a clutch three for Russia to make it 39-34 at the break.
Russia revved up its defense and found its form on the attack to tie the score on a Mozgov slam two minutes into the second half. A Batum triple four minutes into the third quarter was France’s first basket of the half and put les Bleus ahead 43-40. Khryapa came through with a triple that evened the score again at 45-45. Batum was next to connect from behind the arc and a Joakim Noah offensive rebound and basket restored a promising 51-45 cushion for France. Soon Traore increased the French lead to 8, which is where it stood at the end of the quarter, 55-47. Traore started the fourth quarter with another basket inside to put les Bleus up by double figures. And two minutes into the quarter Traore extended it to 61-49. Kirilenko came back with a basket-plus-foul and after a Khryapa block on Traore and a Monya triple in transition, Russia had cut the deficit in half and France coach Vincent Collet called a timeout to calm his charges. Batum became the aggressor for France and attacked the basket on consecutive plays in which he drew a pair of fouls and generated 5 points. Kirilenko managed to keep Russia in the picture at 66-59 midway through the fourth quarter. After a Parker triple, the France point guard had a chance to go for the kill on the fast break, but Khryapa stormed back to block him and Shved popped in a jumper. Then Kirilenko arrived with a clutch three to make it 64-59 with three-and-a-half minutes to go. However Parker took over for France with a pair of tough baskets. A Batum slam with just under two minutes left made it 75-66 and essentially secured a French victory. Russia never quit, but it did run out of time as France walked away victorious.
Greece 87-77 Serbia
, Game 5-8 place
Greece clinched a spot at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament by topping Serbia 87-77 behind 27 points from Ioannis Bourousis of EA7 Emporio Armani. Nikos Zisis of Montepaschi Siena added 18, Antonis Fotsis of Milano had 16 while Panathinaikos guard Nick Calathes got 10 and 10 assists for Greece. Marko Keselj of Olympiacos led Serbia with 22 points. Nenad Krstic of CSKA Moscow added 15 while Milan Macvan of Maccabi Electra had 14. Bourousis struck twice from downtown and Fotsis added his own three-pointer in a 13-0 run that allowed Greece to get the lead for good, 15-2. Serbia kept struggling in defense, allowing open shots. Meanwhile, a layup-plus-foul quickly made it a 21-point game, 25-4. Macvan tried to change things with a jumper but an outstanding Zisis and a three-pointer by Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos boosted the Greek lead to 34-8 after 10 minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers by Keselj and a baseline jumper by Macvan gave Serbia some hope, 38-18. Bourousis stepped up with consecutive jump hooks and an easy basket by Bizkaia Bilbao Basket center Dimitrios Mavroeidis fixed the halftime score at 48-26. Keselj and Krstic tried to change things for Serbia but their team only managed to trade baskets for the best part of the third quarter, as a three-pointer by Ivan Paunic only brought his team within 61-44. A jumper by former Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic of CSKA Moscow got Serbia as close as 65-55 but an unstoppable Bourousis stepped up again to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.