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France beats Italy 91-84 to advance at Europeans

By Nesha Starcevic

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Sept. 4 2011 12:52 p.m. MDT

Tony Parker, left, from France celebrates with his teammates after defeating Italy during the EuroBasket European Basketball Championship Group B match in Siauliai, Lithuania, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011. France won the match 91-84.

Petr David Josek, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SIAULIAI, Lithuania — France rallied with a big fourth quarter despite playing without Tony Parker to defeat Italy 91-84 on Sunday and advance to the second round of the European basketball championship.

France's fourth victory in four games meant that Serbia and Germany also advanced from Group B no matter what happens in their match later Sunday.

Parker was kneed in the left thigh by Andrea Bargnani on the second play of the game, struggled through the first half and part of the third quarter before leaving the game for good.

"I am going to have treatment on it tonight and see if I can play tomorrow," Parker said. France plays Serbia on Monday. "The doctor said I should not take a risk in the fourth quarter."

The top three teams from each of the four groups advance. Head-to-head results from group games carry over to the second round so every win is important.

Russia, also 4-0 after beating Bulgaria 89-77, is through from Group D.

In a major upset, Poland edged world championship silver medalist Turkey 84-83 in Group A.

Macedonia beat Finland 72-70 in a tight Group C, where Greece defeated Montenegro 71-55.

Britain beat winless Portugal 85-73 in Group A and Georgia defeated Ukraine 69-53 in Group D. Britain is 1-3, Georgia 2-2 and Ukraine 1-4.

Israel beat winless Latvia 91-88 for its first win in four games in Group B.

Italy fell to 1-3 despite leading by seven at the end of the third quarter. But France outscored Italy 31-17 in the fourth, with Boris Diaw of the Charlotte Bobcats getting 21 points.

Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers added 20. France got 28 of the points from bench players.

"We came back at the end thanks to our bench," Diaw said. "It's a great win for us. We found out that we know how to play without Tony, that we have other solutions on the offense."

Diaw, who had eight points in the fourth quarter, made a layup with 36 seconds remaining to put France up by three, 85-82.

Marco Belinelli of the New Orleans Hornets, who finished with 19 points, then missed a layup, Batum got the rebound, drew a foul and made both free throws.

Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets, who had 18 points, then missed a 3-point attempt and Diaw sank two more free throws for the final score.

"A few bad shots, a few rebounds at the end decided the game," Italy coach Simone Pianigiani said.

Bargnani, the Toronto Raptors center, led Italy with 22 points.

Elsewhere, point guard Derdan Berisha scored a game-high 21 points, including the game-winning jumper with 12 seconds remaining, to lead Poland to its surprise win over Turkey (2-2).

Poland, 2-2 and on the brink of advancing, went into the final quarter with a one-point lead.

Though Turkey led through much of the fourth quarter, Poland retook the lead on a 3-pointer by Piotr Pamula with 44 seconds remaining.

After Enes Kanter sank two free throws, Berisha hit the game-winner over Kerem Tunceri.

Tunceri missed his own shot at the buzzer.

Adam Hrycaniuk contributed 15 points for Poland. Kanter scored 19 and Ersan Ilyasova had 14 for Turkey.

"We did too many things wrong," Turkey coach Orhun Ene said. "We lost our focus at times on defense."

Poland now needs to beat Britain in the final game of the first round to advance, while Turkey needs a win against defending champion Spain plus a defeat for Poland.

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