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September 11, 2009

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France, Spain win to advance at Euro

RONNY Turiaf had a double-double and Tony Parker added 17 points on Wednesday to help lead France to a 69-64 win over defending champion Russia and finish the group phase undefeated at the European championship in Poland.

After carrying the French in their opening two games, Parker finally got some help from Turiaf and Charlotte Bobcats forward Boris Diaw. Turiaf, the Golden State Warriors center, had 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Diaw added 19 points and seven boards.

"It was a tough game, very hard for both teams," Turiaf said. "We stayed focused for 40 minutes and played together and we are very happy to have beaten a tough Russian team."

Russia, which has only three players from the team that upset Spain in the 2007 final, has looked far from capable of defending its title in Poland, and has clearly missed its two top players from that squad - Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko and JR Holden.

The Russians still managed to squeeze into the next round, however, despite Latvia beating Germany 68-62 on Wednesday to force a three-way tie in the group behind first-place France. All three teams finished 1-2, but Russia and Germany advanced due to a better point differential.

In Group C, world champion Spain outlasted Slovenia 90-84 after Slovenia center Erazem Lorbek hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to force overtime. Both teams finished 2-1 in the group and move into the next round.

Juan Carlos Navarro led the way for Spain with 21 points, while Portland Trail Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez chipped in with 19 points.

Serbia beat Britain 77-59 to grab the group's third spot in the next round.

In Group A, Greece remained unbeaten, pounding winless Israel 106-80 behind 18 points and five assists from guard Vasileios Spanoulis. Croatia secured another spot in the next round with an 81-71 win over Macedonia, which also advanced.

Trailing by 14 at the half, Croatia opened the third quarter with a 12-0 run and then pulled away down the stretch.

Turkey took the top spot in Group D, beating Poland 87-69 behind a game-high 22 points from Omer Asik. Poland dropped to 2-1, but had already advanced to the next round.

Lithuania also advanced with a 84-69 win over Bulgaria.


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