France beats Lithuania for first basketball title

NESHA STARCEVIC (AP Sports Writer)
September 22, 2013
France beats Lithuania for first basketball title
View photos
France's Tony Parker, right, reacts with France's Florent Pietrus, left, after receiving their gold medals for winning the EuroBasket European Basketball Championship in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. France defeated Lithuania in their gold medal match 80-66. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) -- France won its first major basketball title Sunday, beating Lithuania 80-66 in the final of the European championship.

San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker had a quiet game for France, which broke open a close contest by closing the third quarter with a 14-0 run that kept Lithuania scoreless for 4 minutes. France's lead grew to 22 with 3 minutes remaining in the third and Lithuania never recovered.

Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers scored 17 points, and Boris Diaw - Parker's Spurs teammate - added 15 for France. Parker, who finished with 12 points after scoring only four through the first three quarters, was named tournament MVP after scoring 32 points against defending champion Spain in the semifinals.

Linas Kleiza, who played seven seasons in the NBA with Portland and Denver, led Lithuania with 20 points.

The championship ended years of frustration for a strong French squad that includes six NBA players on its roster. France lost the final against Spain two years ago and won the bronze in 2005. After finally capturing the elusive gold - in France's record 36th appearance in the tournament - Parker led his teammates into the stands to celebrate with fans after the final buzzer.

Spain beat Croatia 92-66 earlier in the bronze medal game.