Box score

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 13 -- In an game that had everything, Lithuania came out on top against France, 74-70, in a titanic battle that did not disappoint.

France could only watch as a late fourth-quarter lead evaporated and with it the guarantee of European medal and 2004 Olympic berth. Deafened by a raucous Lithuaninan crowd, France's players could have been mistaken into thinking that they were playing in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Dallas Mavericks) who had been hampered by a shoulder injury sustained in the quarterfinal, France went on a 14-2 run which helped to calm the nerves.

The interior presence of veteran Lithuaninan center Eurelijus Zukauskas was felt early as he finished the quarter with six points and two blocks. With France shooting only 29 percent for the quarter on 5-for-17 shooting Lithuania took a 20-16 lead at the end of the first.

San Antonio's Tony Parker began the second quarter with a three and France then proceeded to take the lead, 21-20, on a thunderous Jerome Moiso (Toronto Raptors) dunk. Lithuania quickley countered and rallied to take an eight-point lead 31-23, topped off by a spectacular no-look pass by Sarunas Jasikevicius.

France then stepped up its defensive efforts and, sparked by a clearly motivated Parker, went on an 8-0 run to get to within one, 33-34, on a Parker spin move. The momemtum of the game would often switch and it was the turn of the Lithuanians to go on an 8-0 run of their own to increase their advantage to 42-34.

While effective inside, Lithuania also continued to shoot the ball well from the exterior. Parker and Saulius Strombergas, who had 14 points at the half, exchanged threes as Lithuania took a 45-37 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Jasikevicius began the third quarter with a three, giving Lithuania their biggest lead of the game at 48-37. Abdul-Wahad continued to shoot consistently from outside as France attempted to chip away at the lead. A big block by Boris Diaw (Atlanta Hawks) appeared to provide the much-needed spark as France ran of a 14-6 run, culminating in a Parker three pointer to take the lead 57-56.

Hurt by early foul trouble, France was unable to count on sharpshooter Laurent Foirest, who picked up a critical fourth foul with three minutes remaining in the third. Parker beat the shot clock to end the third quarter as France held on to a narrow two-point lead, 60-58. Two quick baskets from Abdul-Wahad and then Diaw helped give France a five-point advantage, 70-65, with three minutes to go: The final was in touching distance. This, however, would be the last time France scored as the Lithuanians ended the game on a 9-0 run aided by a Arvydas Macijauskas three and a go-ahead layup by Stombergas.

Lithuania gave France with a chance to take the lead, however, after committing a 24-second violation with 1:26 left. Mustapha Sonko missed a tough baseline layup, but Lithuania was still unable to score on the subsequent possession.

Following a timeout and with France down 72-70 with 15.9 seconds left, it was left to Parker to bring up the ball and try push France into the Final. After bringing the ball up past midcourt, Parker was double-teamed, and while trying to dribble through the double team, and unaided by an unfriendly bounce off the referee, Parker lost the ball.

Ramunas Siskauskas calmly hit the pursuing free throws givig Lithuania the victory. Stombergas led Lithuania with 22 points, Parker finished with 24 and Abdul-Wahad 16.