Reigning champions France had far too much for Latvia and sauntered into the semi’s with a stylish display, while Spain dug deep to stop Greece’s charge at EuroBasket 2015. The Last Four picture is only half complete as the other two nations fighting for the final will meet on Wednesday, with Serbia playing the Czech Republic and Italy squaring off against Lithuania.
France vs. Latvia, 84-70
Host nation and defending champions France stayed perfect at EuroBasket 2015 with a solid quarterfinal victory over Latvia in Lille. 22,076 fans watched the French stay on course to retain their title as the team eased into the last four on the back of Tony Parker igniting the roster to victory.
Latvia opened the contest in good touch, taking a 20-25 lead into the first split. France sorted out its defensive play in the second act and managed to carve out a 40-38 lead. Tony Parker had provided the spark that lit the fuse and a 16-7 run in the third gave way to a 28-25 winning fourth period for Les Bleus and the game was completed in style. Without Parker’s nine consecutive second quarter points, France may have found the going harder, but with EuroBasket’s all-time leading scorer in the team anything is possible.
Parker has warmed into the competition and here he led the French with 18 points and 6 assists. Boris Diaw followed with 14 points for the winners, while Rudy Gobert added 13 points. Nando De Colo had a good all round game as he amassed 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, with Joffrey Lauvergne completing the double digit picture with 10 points and 7 boards.
Kristaps Janicenoks topped the losing effort with 16 points, while Janice Strelnieks hit for 14 points and Diaris Bertans hauled 13 points.
Spain vs. Greece, 73-71
Spain found the going tougher against a Greece team that landed in this quarter-final showdown undefeated in the competition. Spain’s path has been slightly more fraught, with the country struggling early on but warming nicely into those winning display that broke Greek hearts.
The teams could not be separated in the opening stretch as they shared for 14-14 on the scoreboard. A big second frame saw Spain win 25-18 to claim a 39-32 lead through the long break. Greece’s own period of dominance in the third frame snatched back the initiative and through thirty minutes Spain trailed 55-57. The Spanish players peppered the paint in the fourth stanza and for nearly seven minutes Greece only drained three points, allowing Spain to shut down for the win… although Greece did have a halfway shot at the victory as the buzzer sounded.
Pau Gasol has been hot during EuroBasket 2015 and he continued here with a game leading 27 points and 9 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic found 18 points through the nets, while Sergio Rodriguez drained 10 points.
Nick Calathes topped the Greek contingent with 14 points and 7 assists, followed by Georgios Printezis with 13 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo with 12 points, and finally Vassilis Spanoulis with 10 points and 5 assists.