Olympics

Lithuania-France Preview

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France and Lithuania got off to rough starts in London, but each bounced back with important victories to keep pace in a loaded Group A.

The squads will meet in another crucial contest when the Tony Parker-led French take on Linas Kleiza and Lithuania on Thursday.

France (1-1) was pummeled in its first Olympic contest in 12 years, falling 98-71 to the United States on Sunday. Parker, though, scored a team-high 17 points to lead his team to a 71-64 upset of Argentina on Tuesday to get them back on track.

Parker went 9 for 10 from the free-throw line while Nicolas Batum added 14 points.

''Obviously it a big win for us,'' Parker said. ''We were little bit disappointed with the way we played against the USA. We wanted to play a lot better.

''I was just happy at the end I could make a couple of shots and we could get the win."

France, ranked 12th in the world by FIBA, will look to keep rolling against fifth-ranked Lithuania (1-1), which is coming off a 72-53 win over Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Lithuanians were routed 102-79 by Argentina on Sunday despite Kleiza's team-high 20 points, but they responded with a solid effort to avoid losing further ground in a tough Group A, currently led by the undefeated United States.

Kleiza scored a game-high 13 points and Darius Songaila had 12.

"We had an extra motivation because we understand that our group is very tough," coach Kestutis Kemzura said. "Losing this game would have meant that we would have really complicated our situation to move to the next stage. It was a good lesson for us."

Kemzura said Lithuania can take plenty of positives from its victory heading into another important contest with France.

"When the game was on the edge, we showed our character," he said. "We'll try not to lose this quality and to build on this win in the next games."

Kleiza didn't play in last year's EuroBasket tournament in which France beat Lithuania 73-67 in the second round Sept. 9, the most recent meeting between the countries.

Nando de Colo scored a game-high 21 points while Parker added 19 in the win. Lithuania's Simas Jasaitis scored a team-high 13 points and Songaila finished with nine.

Tagged: Tony Parker

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