Turning Point: Tony Parker had nine consecutive points in a 14-0 run midway through the fourth quarter than finally broke the resistance of the Ukrainians. Stats Don't Lie: In the first three quarters, Parker had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting. In the fourth, he had 15 points on 6-for-8. Et voila. Game Hero: Parker was stellar, scoring a game-high 28 points, and most critically pressing the ignition button to send Les Bleus out of reach.
Tony Parker dominated for France, lighting up with 15 points in the fourh quarter to lead his team to safety
Tony Parker's late show broke Ukraine's resistance and propelled France to a 77-71 victory on Sunday that puts them on the brink of qualifying for the Second Round of EuroBasket 2013.
Previously unbeaten, Mike Fratello's side were emboldened by an early run and gave as good as they got for 33 minutes, shooting efficiently from the perimeter and putting Les Bleus under pressure.
Ultimately Parker stepped up and carried his team home. "He made every shot," reflected Fratello, whose side must beat Great Britain on Monday to guarantee their place in the next phase.
The San Antonio Spurs guard, however, was relieved at securing a third consecutive win following another testing examination. "It was a tough game," Parker said. "Ukraine is a very very good team. They play great basketball. They proved it at the very beginning of the tournament and they made it very hard for us. They packed it in the paint. They forced us to take outside shots and we were struggling the whole game."
Pooh Jeter hit an early three that sparked Ukraine into a 7-0 lead at the outset as the French were caught cold. It took a while for them to warm up. Parker's three-point play capped a 7-0 burst which put the 2011 runners-up ahead early in the second but it was destined to be a battle, more so when Fratello saw his side edge 36-35 ahead at half-time.
Two threes from Mickael Gelabale began a 10-3 run which took the French 51-46 in front but Ukraine kept fighting, moving 57-54 clear when Ihor Zaytsev drained a three of his own.
But Thomas Heurtel hit a go-head jumper with 6:55 left and the Ukrainian challenge was ruthlessly extinguished.
"They hurt us on the offensive boards," said Fratello. "We did not shoot our free-throws and that did not give us a chance to hang in there when they made their run. And that all adds up against a very good team. Unlike France, we had some defensive breakdowns. Our offensive execution was not as good as it could have been. But credit to France for that."