LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Tony Parker scored 28 points Sunday to lead France past Ukraine 77-71 and into the second round of the European basketball championship.
Earlier, Finland edged Russia 86-83 in double overtime Sunday to also earn a place in the second round. Finland trailed in both regulation and first overtime but tied it late both times to remain in the game, before eliminating the Russians.
Italy stayed perfect after four games with a 81-72 victory over previously unbeaten Greece, with Marco Belinelli scoring 23 points. Both teams joined Finland in advancing from that group. In Jesenice, Serbia beat Latvia 80-71 behind 25 points from center Nenad Krstic to advance.
In the late matches, Lithuania beat Montenegro 77-70 in overtime in Jesenice and Croatia defeated Slovenia 76-74, also in overtime. Turkey beat Sweden 87-74 in a match between two eliminated teams in Koper, while Israel beat Belgium 87-69 for its first victory in Ljubljana.
Israel’s victory means that all teams in that group except Germany can join France in the second round — Britain, Israel, Ukraine and Belgium. Lithuania eliminated Montenegro, while Croatia will play the Czech Republic on Monday for a slot in the second round, joining Spain and Slovenia from that pool.
Ukraine stayed with France until the fourth quarter, when Parker took over. The San Antonio Spurs star connected with two jumpers and then sank a 3-pointer to help the French pull away. Parker scored 13 of his team’s last 17 points. France was runner-up two years ago.
“We kept fighting and in the fourth quarter we found the solutions,” Parker said after playing his 50th game in a European championship. “I try to lead the team and to help the young players. When you are playing must-win games, you have to be disciplined, serious. We’ll raise our level in the second round.”
Pooh Jeter finished with 20 points for Ukraine. Tyrese Rice sank an improbable 3 with 10 seconds remaining to send Montenegro into overtime against Lithuania. But Darjus Lavrinovic knocked down a 3-pointer to secure the win for Lithuania, which got 24 points from his brother Ksistof. Rice finished with 19 points.
Croatia overcame a 13-point deficit in the third quarter and got a game-high 24 points from Bojan Bogdanovic to beat the host. Ante Tomic had 11 points to go with 15 rebounds but it was Damjam Rudez who nailed two crucial 3-pointers in overtime after scoring only two points in regulation. Goran Dragic had 23 for Slovenia.
In Celje, Jan Vesely had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Czech Republic in a 95-79 victory over Georgia. Tomas Satoransky added 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists as the Czechs stayed in contention while eliminating Georgia.
“When you put him (Satoransky) together with Jan Vesely, you have a killer combination,” veteran Czech guard Jiri Welsch said. “We’re sure happy to have that on our team.” Captain Krstic said his team dedicated the victory to 18-year-old Serbian basketball player Natasa Kovacevic, who had a leg amputated after a bus carrying her Hungarian team crashed on Saturday.
“We are all affected by this tragedy and she was in our thoughts tonight,” Krstic said. Elsewhere, Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol scored 15 points apiece to lead defending champion Spain to an overwhelming 89-53 victory over winless Poland in Celje.