14 Sep 2014

France third at World Cup

3:23 pm on 14 September 2014

France have claimed their first-ever podium finish at the Basketball World Cup beating Lithuania 95-93 in a third-place thriller.

France's Boris Diaw

France's Boris Diaw Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Nicolas Batum paced the French with 27 points while Joffrey Lauvergne and Thomas Heurtel both added 13 points, as Les Bleus improved on their previous best fourth place in 1954.

It was also a rematch of the 2013 EuroBasket final, won by France.

Lithuania missed a chance to repeat their third-place finish from 2010, where they beat Serbia.

Jonas Valanciunas was Lithuania's leader with 25 points while Adas Juskevicius had 14 points.

After a cold start, Lithuania grabbed their first lead 9-7 with a 7-0 run.

France answered with six straight points and they never trailed the rest of the quarter, going up 22-19 after 10 minutes

The French made it a five-point cushion a second time at 34-29 and never let Lithuania get ahead, leading 43-42 at halftime.

Lithuania scored the first basket of the second half and gained the upper hand, opening up a 62-54 advantage. And the lead was 71-64 after three quarters.

France fought back into the game with a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter and led 77-75.

Valanciunas scored five straight points to give the Baltic side the lead but two Boris Diaw baskets and two Heurtel free throws helped the French to an 86-80 lead inside the final minute.

The French made nine of 10 free throws in the final 15.2 seconds to fend off a comeback attempt.

In Monday morning's grand final, The USA take on Serbia.