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Ukraine beats France to reach quarterfinals

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) - Nemanja Nedovic stole the ball, raced down the court and soared for a thundering one-handed dunk.

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It was just one of many highlights by Nedovic, who outplayed Tony Parker on Sunday in Serbia's 77-65 victory over France at the European basketball championships.

That dunk gave Serbia its biggest lead of 14 points midway through the fourth quarter. With France cutting the gap, Nedovic made a 3-pointer that gave his team a 10-point lead with 2:28 left in the game.

The win gave Serbia first place in Group E, with both teams having already qualified for the quarterfinals. Lithuania took second, France third and Ukraine fourth.

Nedovic, a shooting guard headed for the Golden State Warriors, finished with 17 points and upstaged Parker, the San Antonio Spurs' star, who was held to 10 points.

``He is a great player and it was our team effort that stopped him,'' said Nedovic, who went 5-for-8 from 3-point range and had 14 of his points in the second half.

Center Nenad Krstic finished with 19 points while two other Serbia big men, Djordje Gagic and Vladimir Stimac, combined for 16 points and 11 rebounds. Serbia overcame 48-percent shooting from the foul line.

``They were more aggressive, they put us under pressure and they have bigger men, Krstic was big inside,'' France forward Nicolas Batum said.

Batum was one of four France players with 12 points.

Earlier, Sacha Massot had a key block and a dunk late in the game to help give Belgium a 60-56 victory over Latvia that sent Ukraine into the quarterfinals.

Ukraine needed the help, too, as it lost 70-63 to Lithuania in a later game. Latvia needed to win and have Lithuania beat Ukraine to advance.

``We beat Belgium by one point on a 3-point play with two seconds left in our first game of the tournament and they did us a favor today,'' Ukraine coach Mike Fratello said.

Croatia, Slovenia and Italy have already advanced from Group F, which ends play Monday. Spain, Greece and Finland are in the running for one remaining slot.

Ukraine, which will host the next European championship in two years, is in the quarterfinals for the first time.

``Ukraine has improved a lot, they play very good basketball,'' Lithuania coach Jonas Kazlaukas said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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