<
>

Russia, Croatia qualify for quarterfinals

9/15/2009

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland -- Defending champion Russia edged Macedonia 71-69 Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals of the European basketball championship.

Center Timofey Mozgov had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Russia. Macedonia had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds after Russia threw the ball away with 5.9 seconds to play.

But Macedonia guard Dimitar Mirakovski's runner in the lane bounced out at the buzzer and Russia hung on for the win, despite shooting just 1 of 15 on 3-pointers.

"We needed to look really far down deep in ourselves to win that ballgame because it was looking pretty bleak," Russia coach David Blatt said. "But in the end, we found it, and I am proud of what we have done and am looking forward to next stage."

Pero Antic had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Macedonia, which was eliminated with the loss.

In another Group E matchup, France defeated Greece 71-69 on a jump shot at the buzzer by reserve guard Nando De Colo to stay unbeaten in the tournament.

De Colo, drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2009, hit two free throws to put France ahead 69-66 with 20 seconds to play. Greece guard Vasileios Spanoulis then drained a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to tie it up before De Colo's winning shot.

France had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals, and coach Vincent Collet limited the playing time of three of his NBA stars -- Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf.

The victory keeps France atop Group E, and Greece in second. Both teams advance to the quarterfinals, which start Thursday in Katowice.

Croatia earned the fourth and final quarterfinal spot from Group E with its 70-68 win over Germany.