France beats Lithuania to win 1st basketball title
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — France won its first major basketball title by beating Lithuania 80-66 in the final of the European championship on Sunday, despite Tony Parker having a quiet game for once.
Lithuania shut down Parker but could not handle his teammates, who provided the big shots when France needed them.
France broke open a close game by finishing the third quarter with a 14-0 run that kept Lithuania scoreless for four minutes. The French lead grew to 22 points with three minutes remaining in the third and Lithuania never came close to a comeback.
Nicolas Batum had 17 points and Boris Diaw added 15, while Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 20.
Parker finished with 12 points, after scoring four through the first three quarters. But his scoring and leadership during the run to the final — including 32 points against defending champion Spain in the semifinals — earned the San Antonio Spurs guard the tournament MVP award.
The win finally ended years of frustration for a fine French generation that included six NBA players on its roster. It lost the final to Spain two years ago, having taken bronze in 2005. After finally capturing that elusive gold — in France’srecord 36th appearance in the tournament — Parker led the French team into the stands to celebrate with their fans after the final buzzer.
Spain beat Croatia 92-66 earlier Sunday to earn the bronze medal.
Guard Antoine Diot polished off France’s victory with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, after a Lithuania turnover gave them the possession with 0.9 seconds left.
Boris Diaw threw the ball to Diot, who nailed a 3 that was uphel after the referees viewed the video to make sure he had beaten the clock.
Batum finished the first half with 17 points, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and making three of four 3-pointers.
Diaw took over in the third, scoring 11 points on drives to the basket and outside shots.