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France to face Greece in semifinals

9/22/2005 - NBA

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- France beat defending
champion Lithuania 63-47 Thursday to reach the European
Championship semifinals behind Boris Diaw's 18 points and 11
rebounds and a strong game from Tony Parker.
The French will next play Greece, which defeated Russia 66-61 on
23 points by Theodoros Papaloukas. Greece advanced to the Euro
semifinals for the first time since 1997.
In Friday's quarterfinals, Slovenia plays Germany and Croatia
meets Spain.
Parker, the point guard for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs,
finished with 11 points and five assists.
"I did everything with the Spurs, two rings," he said. "Now I
want to do something with the national team."
France eliminated world champion Serbia-Montenegro in the
previous round.
"With every new match we've picked up our game," said Diaw,
who plays for the Phoenix Suns. "This was our fourth and this was
our best."
Center Frederic Weis added 11 rebounds and five points for
France while Antoine Rigaudeau scored 11 points.
France led 32-16 at halftime. Lithuania, usually a high-scoring
team, missed all nine 3-point attempts.
"We played great defense," Parker said. "I cannot recall when
Lithuania scored only 47 points in a game."
Twins Ksistof and Darjus Lavrinovic provided some scoring for
Lithuania after halftime. Ksistof hit the team's first 3-pointer
and Darjus scored eight straight points at the end of the third
quarter as Lithuania pulled within eight.
But Diaw scored on a jumper and Parker made the next five points
as France drew away. Rigaudeau and Parker made four free throws
each for the final score.
Earlier, Papaloukas scored the last 10 points for Greece, which
rallied from an 11-point deficit. The point guard shot 6-for-7 from
2-point range and was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
"We were a bit afraid of the Russians before the game," he
said. "But when we saw that we could beat them during the match,
we shifted into a higher gear and tightened our defense in the
third quarter."
Russia's Andrei Kirilenko, who stars for the Utah Jazz, finished
with 20 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks. Jon Robert Holden, an
American-born, naturalized guard, added 15 points. Dimosthenis
Ntikoudis had 11 points, the only other Greek player in double
digits.
Russia did not score for nearly 10 minutes at the end of the
third and the start of the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by
Papaloukas gave Greece its first lead since the start of the game
at 42-40.
Russia's Vitaly Fridzon made a 3-pointer to reduce Greece's lead
to 61-58. Papaloukas then took over by converting four free throws.