Parker leads France, Nowitzki leads Germany into quarters

Updated: September 20, 2005, 5:52 PM ET
Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- Tony Parker played his best game of the tournament Tuesday as France stunned Serbia-Montenegro 74-71 to reach the quarterfinals of the European Championship.

Parker, the point guard for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, had 13 points and Antoine Rigaudeau added 14 against the defending world champions.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points as Germany beat Turkey 66-57 to move into the quarterfinals, Croatia also reached the last eight by beating Olympic runner-up Italy 74-66, and Greece allowed only 14 points in the first half of a 67-61 victory over Israel.

In Thursday's quarterfinals, France will face defending champion Lithuania and Greece plays Russia. On Friday, Germany will play Slovenia and Croatia will face Spain.

Serbia-Montenegro, once the ruling power in European basketball, suffered its third straight setback at a major championship. A sixth-place finisher two years ago, it finished 11th at last year's Olympics and now dropped out of this tournament with a 2-2 record.

Parker had been a non-factor in the first three games as France squeezed into the playoffs with a 1-2 record. But he raised his game considerably, and his layup gave France a 58-57 lead.

Serbia-Montenegro had led by as many as 14, and when France threatened to close the gap, Vladimir Radmanovic of the Seattle SuperSonics hit a pair of 3-point shots to keep his team safely ahead in the third quarter.

Radmanovic shot 4-for-4 from 3-point range and finished with 14 points, but Serbia-Montenegro coach Zeljko Obradovic inexplicably kept him on the bench in the fourth quarter although his team was struggling against the French zone defense.

Marko Jaric of the Minnesota Timberwolves also had 14 points. The host team made only 18 of 30 free throws.

Rigaudeau made one free throw with 15 seconds left for the final lead of 74-71. Jaric missed one free throw with 10 seconds left. Obradovic then sent in Detroit Pistons center Darko Milicic for the first time in the game. When Jaric intentionally missed the second free throw, Milicic grabbed the rebound but missed a short jump shot.

With six seconds left, after Zeljko Rebraca also missed one free throw and threw the second against the board, France knocked it out of bounds. With one second left, Serbia-Montenegro inbounded the ball, but Vlado Scepanovic missed a desperate, off-balance 3-point attempt.

"My mistake was not throwing five to six of them off the team," said an angry Obradovic. "They don't even talk with each other, everyone only looks after his own interest. I've never seen such people before."

Nowitzki, the tournament's leading scorer and rebounder, added 10 rebounds. No other German player scored in double figures.

"It's great to be in the quarterfinals," Nowitzki said. "No one believed we could do it."

Nowitzki scored 13 straight points in the third quarter to help Germany rally from an eight-point deficit.

The Dallas Mavericks All-Star tied the game at 45-45 by hitting a 3-pointer, and then nailed another to put Germany in front at 48-46 at the end of the third quarter.

Turkey had pulled away in the first half after three straight 3-pointers by Serkan Erdogan while Nowitzki was resting. But the Germans limited Turkey to 11 points in the final quarter.

"It was really hard. Dirk brought the team back into the game," said Germany coach Dirk Bauermann.

Hedo Turkoglu of the Orlando Magic shot 20 percent from the field and went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, finishing with 10 points. Kaya Peker led Turkey with 16.

Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic said he would offer his resignation when the team returns home.

Croatia, which has not won a medal at a major championship in 10 years, sent Italy home thanks to the dominant play of centers Mario Kasun of Orlando Magic and Nikola Vujcic.

Kasun had 20 points and seven rebounds, while Vujcic added 16 points and four rebounds.

The Italians came within six points with two minutes remaining, but Matteo Soragna missed an open 3-pointer and then lost the ball on the next possession.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press