Tony Parker, Joakim Noah lead France
KAUNAS, Lithuania -- Tony Parker scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as France rallied to beat Greece 64-56 Thursday and line up a semifinal against Russia at the European basketball championship.
Joakim Noah had a key steal late in the game to send the French into the next round against Russia, which beat Serbia 77-67.
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One victory away from achieving one of his remaining ambitions, Tony Parker is focused on helping France defeat Russia to reach the title game of EuroBasket 2011 and secure his first trip to the Olympics, writes Mark Woods. Story
Spain and Macedonia will play in the other semifinal Friday.
Andrei Kirilenko had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals for Russia, which led for most of the game. Victor Khryapa and Andrey Vorontsevich added 11 points each.
Milos Teodosic scored 20 points for Serbia, but finished with nine turnovers and missed two 3-point attempts late in the game.
Ioannis Bourousis had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Greece, which led 43-40 going into the fourth quarter.
But Parker scored four straight points to cap an 8-0 French run early in the quarter and France never lost the lead again. France outscored Greece 24-13 in the final period.
"I've worked too hard this summer and the last 10 years to let it end now," said Parker, the San Antonio Spurs star who is seeking to lead this generation of talented French players to their country's first title.
Bourousis kept Greece in the game until Nicolas Batum, the Portland Trail Blazers small forward, made two straight baskets with a block in between to give France a six-point lead with a little more than a minute to go.
Nando de Colo finished with 16 points and Batum added 15 for Greece.
"They really broke our rhythm at the start. They pretty much put us to sleep," Parker said. "But we got into the third quarter well and we never doubted that we would win."
The two finalists of this tournament will clinch spots at the 2012 London Olympics. The next four teams will go to an additional qualifying tournament next year, with three advancing to the Games.
France and Russia are certain of at least a place in the qualifying tournament.
"This was our first goal, now we want to go straight to the Olympics," France coach Vincent Collet said.
Greece and Serbia will play for a place in the top six. The winner will play Lithuania for fifth place. Lithuania beat Slovenia 80-77 in the early game.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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