France inched closer to getting payback for its finals loss in 2011 after they bucked the home crowd and defeated Slovenia, 70-60, at the 2013 FIBA Eurobasket quarterfinals in Ljubljana.
Staying close the entire game, Slovenia applied suffocating defense on France which shot only 2 of 14 from the field in the first quarter. On offense, the home team entrusted the ball to the Dragic brothers who scored 10 of Slovenia's points. This allowed Slovenia to take an early 12-10 lead.
Nicolas Batum scored 17 points in an 88-65 blowout win over Great Britain in FIBA Eurobasket 2013.
Scoring picked up in the second quarter as they took a 20-16 lead. Zoran Dragic and Bostjan Nachbar had other plans, though, as they conspired to get the lead back for Slovenia. Tony Parker found himself open for a jumper before the buzzer sounded, helping France take a 26-24 lead at halftime.
The law of averages finally caught up with France as they went on a scorching 10-0 run to push the lead to 36-26. Nachbar and Jaka Blazic each canned three-point shots to bring down the lead to three then Tony Parker tallied six straight points to restore the lead to 50-42. A Domen Lorbek buzzer-beating trifecta whittled the Slovenian deficit down to only five, 50-45, as the third quarter ended.
Lorbek further narrowed France's lead 52-49, but the visitors went on another 7-0 run to reestablish the 10-point margin once again at 59-49. Nicolas Batum starred in that pivotal run when he scored on a breakaway three-point play. Nando De Colo also contributed with a jumper and Mickael Gelabale scored as France held off their opponents. Tony Parker hit the insurance free throws as his team weathered a furious rally by the hosts.
With the win, France will march into the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Slovenia still has a chance to qualify, but they have to win over Serbia, which lost to Spain in the other quarterfinal match on Tuesday. Tony Parker had 27 big points and was supported by Nicolas Batum, who had an excellent all-around performance with 14 points, five rebounds, two steals, and two assists.
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