France, Russia Advance to Meet in Euro Semifinals
KAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) — Tony Parker scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as France rallied to beat Greece 64-56 Thursday and line up a semifinal against Russia at the European basketball championship.
Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls had a key steal late in the game to send the French into the next round against Russia, which beat Serbia 77-67.
Spain and Macedonia will play in the other semifinal on Friday.
Andrei Kirilenko had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals for Russia, which led for most of the game. Victor Khryapa and Andrey Vorontsevich added 11 points each.
Milos Teodosic scored 20 points for Serbia, but finished with nine turnovers and missed two 3-point attempts late in the game.
Ioannis Bourousis had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Greece, which led 43-40 going into the fourth quarter.
But Parker scored four straight points to cap an 8-0 run early in the quarter and France never lost the lead again. France outscored Greece 24-13 in the final period.
"I've worked too hard this summer and the last 10 years to let it end now," said Parker, the San Antonio Spurs star who is seeking to lead this generation of talented French players to their country's first title.
Bourousis kept Greece in the game until Nicolas Batum, the Portland Trail Blazers small forward, made two straight baskets with a block in between to make it a six-point game with just over a minute to go.
Nando de Colo finished with 16 points and Batum added 15 for Greece.
"They really broke our rhythm at the start. They pretty much put us to sleep," Parker said. "But we got into the third quarter well and we never doubted that we would win."
The two finalists of this tournament will clinch spots at the 2012 London Olympics. The next four teams will go to an additional qualifying tournament next year, with three advancing to the games.
France, like other semifinalists, is certain at least of a place in the qualifying tournament.
"This was our first goal, now we want to go straight to the Olympics," France coach Vincent Collet said.
Greece and Serbia will play for a place in the top six.
The winner will play Lithuania for fifth place. Lithuania beat Slovenia 80-77 in the early game.