Tony Parker, France wins 2013 EuroBasket championship

France finally captured their elusive first continental crown by beating Lithuania 80-66 to win EuroBasket 2013 and will head to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as European champions.

Nicolas Batum led the way for the French with 17 points, six rebounds and two steals while Boris Diaw added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists and Tony Parker finished with 12 points.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel. The journey was unbelievable. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Parker said afterward.

“I won the title. I’m a little tired. I felt it in the Quarters and Semis. And before the game coach (Vincent Collet) said ‘trust your teammates’. If you score 10 points we will win the Final. And he was right.”

Lithuania’s veteran big man Robertas Javtokas said his team let their opportunity slip.

“Today we had a chance to win but they were better than us,” he said…

Parker was named the tournament’s MVP and headlined the All-Tournament Team that also included Lithuania’s Kleiza, Slovenia guard Goran Dragic, Marc Gasol of Spain and Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic.

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France broke open a close game by finishing the third quarter with a 14-0 run that kept Lithuania scoreless for four minutes. The French lead grew to 22 points with three minutes remaining in the third and Lithuania never came close to a comeback.

Batum had 17 points and Diaw added 15, while Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 20.

Parker finished with 12 points, after scoring just four through the first three quarters. But his scoring and leadership during the run to the final - including 32 points against defending champion Spain in the semifinals - earned him the tournament MVP award.

“We had a perfect plan, the coach said they would double-team me and that I had to trust my teammates and not to worry if I don’t score much,” Parker said.

After finally capturing that elusive gold - in France’s record 36th appearance in the tournament - Parker led the French team into the stands to celebrate with their fans after the final buzzer.

Reported by the Associated Press