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September 17, 2009

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Russia edges Macedonia, grabs Euro quarters spot

CENTER Timofey Mozgov had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead defending champion Russia past Macedonia 71-69 and into the quarterfinals of the European championship in Poland.

Macedonia had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds after Russia threw the ball away with 5.9 seconds to play in Bydgoszcz. 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 from behind the arc.

"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 the next stage."

Power forward Pero Antic scored 19 points and pulled down 10 boards to lead Macedonia, which was eliminated with the loss.

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

De Colo, who was 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 three-pointer with eight seconds left to tie it up before De Colo's winner as time expired.

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.

"I'm happy we managed to give them rest and win, which were our two goals," Collet said.

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

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


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