Jasikevicius leads Lithuania past Parker's France

Sep 10, 2007 - 9:52 PM By Jeff Taylor Special to PA SportsTicker

MADRID, Spain (Ticker) - Sarunas Jasikevicius upstaged Tony Parker on Monday as Lithuania defeated France, 88-73, at the Telefonica in Madrid for a fifth consecutive victory and a place in the quarterfinals of EuroBasket 2007.

The reserve guard of the Golden State Warriors, Jasikevicius made 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range and finished with 14 points while dishing out seven assists.

France led 20-19 at the start of the second quarter after a dunk by Pape Badiane, but Lithuania then took command with a 17-0 run.

At halftime, the French trailed 48-32, and though France did score the first 10 points of the third quarter to close to six points and then pull even closer at 55-50 with 4:11 remaining in the period, Lithuania always seemed in control.

A free throw by Jasikevicius capped an 11-2 run as Les Bleus trailed 66-52.

France closed the gap to 68-60 at the of the third, but Jasikevicius opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and made sure the Lithuanians held on to their advantage.

Jasikevicius, 31, has not been as big a hit in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers or the Warriors, whom he joined in the middle of last season, as he was at Barcelona and later Maccabi Tel Aviv.

With those two European giants, he won a combined three Euroleague crowns and a host of other titles.

In Lithuania, he is a legend, something that was assured when he was voted MVP of the EuroBasket four years ago in Sweden.

In fact, had his teammates not missed some layup opportunities created by Jasikevicius passes, he would have had double the amount of assists.

"To have Saras (Sarunas) in the team means everything to us," said Ramus Siskauskas, the Lithuanians' leading scorer with 19 points.

Two of his points were scored when he raced in for a layup after catching a behind-the-back pass from Jasikevicius.

"He is the best playmaker in Europe, he is like half of the team," Siskauskas said.

"All of us are better because he (Jasikevicius) is here," said center Robertas Jasikevicius, who received a couple of ally-oop passes for dunks from his teammate.

San Antonio Spurs guard Parker, the MVP of this year's NBA Finals, struggled against the Lithuanians.

He scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting while Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns finished with six points - all of them scored in the first quarter.

Florent Pietrus, the older brother of Golden State's Mickael Pietrus, led France with 13 points.

Despite the setback, the French advanced to quarterfinals in Group F along with Lithuania and Slovenia, which remained in the undefeated in the event with a rout of Germany.

In Monday's first game, Hedo Turkoglu poured in a game-high 34 points for Turkey but it wasn't enough to upset Marco Belinelli and Italy on Monday in the qualifying round at the EuroBasket.

Belinelli scored all 17 of his points after halftime as the Italians won in overtime, 84-75.

Turkey had a chance to win at the end of regulation but Ibrahim Kutluay missed a wide-open attempt from the left corner to leave the game tied at 70-70.

Engin Atsur hit a 3-pointer to put the Turks into a 73-72 lead but Italy responded with a 9-3 run to take control for good.

Belinelli, who is set to begin his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA, was amazing. He scored most of his points on an array of drives to the basket that Turkey could not stop.

"It has been a tough game," Belinelli said. "We trailed by 15 points in the first quarter but we managed to come back.

"We had to win this game and we did. We played some really tough defense in the third and fourth quarters. And the team won, not me. Now we have to prepare for another challenging game against Dirk Nowitzki's Germany."

Turkoglu was a hero even in defeat with one of the finest performances of the EuroBasket, with his contribution containing 5-of-8 shots from the arc.

"It doesn't matter because we lost so there's no consolation," Turkoglu said. "It was a good game and we played well. I'm happy for my team and my teammates because of that but it wasn't enough."

Turkey was plagued by poor free-throw shooting again, making just 16-of-29 (55 percent) for the game.

With the loss, Turkey was eliminated from the competition with an 0-4 record.

The Italians, meanwhile, face Germany on Wednesday, knowing they are still in with a chance of reaching the quarterfinals if they beat the 2005 silver medalists.

The Germans will be coming one of their worst losses in the Dirk Nowitzki era as they absorbed a 77-47 thrashing to unbeaten Slovenia in Monday's final game.

The Slovenians stormed out to a 30-9 first-quarter lead and cruised to a 77-47 triumph.

CSKA Moscow power forward Matjaz Smodis had a game-high 22 points for the victors while Toronto Raptors center Rasho Nesterovic contributed 13 points and seven rebounds.

Nowitzki led the Germans with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Despite the setback, Germany can still advance to the last eight if it beats Italy on Wednesday.

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