It's been over a year since France and Spain squared off in an epic Olympic battle at the 2012 London games that resulted in Spain eliminating France 66-59 in the Quarter-Finals.
A year later on Friday, France stood with the opportunity to finally defeat their longtime foe in basketball. Overtime was needed, but by the time the final buzzer rang in Slovenia the French National team had finally defeated Spain 75-72. France couldn't have won the game without the leadership San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker brought to the floor as he led Les Bleus with a game-high 32 points, which also moved Parker past Dirk Nowitzki to second place in the Eurobasket all-time scoring list.
The match was close in the initially as Spain came out of the first quarter with an 18-14 lead. In the second quarter, the Spanish defense would clamp down on France as the French could only score six points in the quarter. By halftime, Parker had 14 of his team's 20 points. In the second half and overtime, Parker would score his final 18 points as France's offense began to click and their defense began to clamp down on Spain to earn the victory.
Spurs forward Boris Diaw scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds, passed for three assists, and collected two steals in his 30 minutes of play. Spurs guard Nando De Colo provided three points off the bench. Along with his 32 points, Parker also grabbed six rebounds and collected one assist while shooting 11-of-19 from the field in his 37 minutes on the court.
Spain was led by 19 points from Memphis Grizzlies forward Marc Gasol, 17 points from Rudy Fernandez, and 11 points from Sergio Rodriguez. With the win, France has advanced to the Eurobasket Finals on Sunday where they will play Lithuania, who eliminated Italy and Croatia.
Marco Belinelli and Italy also returned to action in the 5th through 8th place match where they fell to Ukraine 66-58. Belinelli scored seven points but could never find a rhythm as he only connected on 2-of-19 field goals in his 32 minutes of play.
Italy still has a chance to earn a bid to the 2014 World Championships in Spain if they can finish in 7th place at Eurobasket. That opportunity will be available Saturday as they will face Serbia in the 7th through 8th place battle.
(Photo: FIBA Europe/ Castoria/ Ceretti)