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France hold off Croatia, do their part for Spain re-match
MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - France did their part to set up a re-match against hosts Spain as they got past Croatia 69-64 to reach the Quarter-Finals of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Nicolas Batum led the way with 14 points while Evan Fournier added 13 points, Mickael Gelabale had 11 and Thomas Heurtel chipped in 10 points for France, who lost 88-84 to Spain in Group A play.
Now Les Bleus are ready for some revenge in the Quarter-Finals - if Spain get past Senegal in their Round of 16 contest.
Croatia bowed out despite 27 points from Bojan Bogdanovic and 17 from Ante Tomic.
France started the game slow, especially on offense, scoring just seven points in the first quarter while hitting just 3-of-16 shots and trailing 15-7 after one quarter.
The French defense took Croatia out of their offensive rhythm in the second and the Balkan side made just 3-of-16 shots in the period.
France used a 12-3 run to pull ahead 19-18. After three lead changes and two ties, the European champions led 23-22 at halftime.
The Croats continued their nightmares on offense in the third, while France built upon their solid second quarter in putting together a 19-5 surge, thanks to a number of fast break opportunities by Batum in building a 46-30 lead, which was 46-34 heading into the final frame.
Croatia tried to fight back in the last 10 minutes but were never able to get closer than two points - on Bogdanovic's three-pointer with 53 seconds left. But their deficit was just too large to finish the comeback.