SPORTS

Incredible comeback

In an incredible finish, Greece came back from seven points down with 40 seconds to go to defeat France by a single point, 67-66, in Belgrade on Saturday to advance to yesterday’s final of Eurobasket 2005, its first appearance in a European championship final since 1989. Guard Dimitris Diamantidis sealed the win with a three-pointer with three seconds to go. The French made incredibly stupid decisions in the closing seconds of the game. In the last one minute and 12 seconds, they allowed the Greeks to score three times within six seconds of gaining possession, turned the ball over from an inbounds pass and committing a foul just a second into Greece’s possession, as if they were the ones in need to stop the clock. If France had won, it would have been because of guard Tony Parker and the way he elevated his game and the three-point scoring during the fourth period, at a time when France was playing with a short lineup. On Greece’s side, there were some crucial defensive lapses, woeful three-point shooting (two-of-14 before Diamantidis’s final shot) and, crucially, three missed free throws by forward Dimos Dikoudis. Parker scored a three-pointer at 38 minutes 48 seconds to apparently deliver the fatal blow (51-58). Theodoros Papaloucas drove and scored with a lay-up (53-58 at 38:53). Florent Pietrus was fouled and made both free throws (53-60 at 38:57). Papaloucas drove again for a lay-up (55-60 at 39:03). Boris Diaw escaped Greece’s trap to dunk (55-62 at 39:13). Guard Nikos Zissis was fouled as he was attempting a three-pointer and made all his free throws (58-62 at 39:20). Parker was fouled and missed both free throws at 39:22. Papaloucas, blocked on offense, turned the ball over at 39:30. On the inbounds pass, Parker couldn’t find Mickael Pitrus and the ball rolled over the side. The Greeks inbounded to center Lazaros Papadopoulos who dunked (60-62 at 39:33). Parker was fouled and made the free throws (60-64 at 39:34). Papaloucas drove for a lay-up (62-64 at 39:42). Antoine Rigaudeau was fouled and missed the first of two throws (62-65 at 39:46). Diaw fouled Papaloucas who made both throws (64-65 at 39:47). Rigaudeau was fouled by Papaloucas, who left with five fouls, but missed his first throw (64-66 at 39:49). Zissis drove to score but his way was blocked by three players and passed back to Diamantidis.