By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
In one more big game in the “Group of Death”, France bounced back from losing to Germany by beating Lithuania 77-73. It was a game decided in the last minutes with France demonstrating their character.
After scoring just seven points in the first game of the tournament, Evan Fournier with 27 points help his team overcome a slow start and made the biggest three of the game, breaking a 64-64 tie. It was the start of a crucial 7-0 run by France that gave them a 71-64 advantage with two minutes left.
“I thought I was a little bit more involved offensively tonight and that helped me find my groove, find my rhythm,” Fournier said. “Guys were looking for me early, with good screens coming off pinsdowns. They gave me confidence. Finally started playing basketball in this EuroBasket.”
Thomas Heurtel scored four of his five points on this stretch plus one steal, while Terry Tarpey who had in total eight points, was crucial in defense and also made a key steal. Lithuania didn’t give up and thanks to Rokas Jokubaitis made it a two-point game (74-72) with 14 seconds left.
Fournier was fouled and he made one of two free throws (75-72). Ignas Brazdeikis got the rebound from the second missed shot and was also fouled. However, Brazdeikis made the first shot and missed the second on purpose, Rudy Gobert got the rebound, was fouled and the game was over with their center making both free throws.
“It was a very good game, with an incredible crowd, the Lithuanians are amazing and they made the game special”, admitted French coach Vincent Collet since the game was sold out with a lot of Lithuanian fans giving their own memorable performance in the stands.
“We made just nine turnovers and that was huge plus we got 11 steals and this was the main key”, he added. “We didn’t start the tournament well, but our reaction was memorable”.
“It was a tough loss, back to back after losing to Slovenia”, said Brazdeikis. “We still have to keep our heads up, nothing changed on the mission, we are here to win and we can turn this around”.
“We have to still fight for the title”, added coach Kazys Maksvytis.
Jonas Valanciunas with 15 points and eight rebounds was Lithuania’s top scorer, Jokubaitis added 14 points and Marius Grigonis had 13, but left the game injured in the closing minutes.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL