Spain, France in Eurobasket Finals
When France last went to the Olympic basketball tournament, it won the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Games and Tony Parker was a promising teenager who led the country’s Under-18 team to the European title.
Parker made sure France will be back at the Olympics when he scored 22 points to lead his team past Russia 79-71 Friday and set up a European championship final against defending gold medalist Spain.
“I’ve been chasing this for 11 years and I’m very happy that I can finally say I’m going to the Olympics,” Parker said. “I had tears in my eyes when the buzzer came and I knew we’d won the game.”
France players celebrate their victory during the EuroBasket, European Basketball Championship semi final match against Russia in Kaunas, Lithuania, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.
Juan Carlos Navarro scored 35 points in a performance his coach called a “masterpiece” as Spain beat Macedonia 92-80 in the first semifinal on Friday.
The European championship finalists automatically qualify for next year’s London Games. The next four teams go to an additional qualifying tournament. Greece beat Serbia 87-77 earlier to join Lithuania, Macedonia and Russia in that group.