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Florent PIETRUS (FRA)
1/8 finals of the FIBA World Championship 2006, Japan. France vs Angola. (27.08.2006). Photo credits: Castoria / Ciamillio.
27/08/2006Game Report, France vs Angola, 68-62, EIGHT-FINALS
SAITAMA (FIBA World Championship) - Aymeric Jeanneau hit six free throws in the final 36 seconds to lead France to a 68-62 victory over Angola and a quarter-final spot at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

Jeanneau scored a team-high 16 points and dished out five assists in his best game since replacing Tony Parker as the French playmaker.

France drained six of 18 three-pointers for a 33 percent shooting night. While far from outstanding, that was a drastic improvement from the past two games in which Claude Bergeaud's team hit just six of 48 treys - for a horrific 12.5 percent.

"It feels great to get through to the quarter­-finals. In previous games we couldn't shoot very well against a zone defense, but today we were able to make some shots," said French forward Mickael Pietrus, who continued his outside struggles with a 1-of-6 shooting night.

Boris Diaw was very strong at points but never took over the game in scoring 14 points while Mickael Gelabale hit a number of big shots in scoring 14 points as well.

France will play the winner of the eight-final encounter between Greece and China next.

Angola leave the FIBA World Championship having impressed for the third straight game against a big-time European side. In their last two matches, Alberto Carvalho's team gave Spain and Germany all they could handle.

"This is a tough loss for us. We didn't start the game very well today and really I don't think we played well at all," said Joaquim Gomes, who was held to 11 points and seven rebounds after scoring over 20 points and grabbing more than 10 rebounds against both Spain and Germany.

"We tried to make some adjustments in the game, but it didn't work out for us. But I'm really happy for me and for my team-mates because we had a great tournament. We showed that we can compete at a high level."

Carvalho said the French did a great job scouting the Angolans.

"They didn't allow us to score easy points. We knew the French team play well on defense, and today we saw the same thing. It's a very dangerous team, and in the quarter-finals they can surprise their next opponent. I think we started a little bit nervous, but after a few minutes we found some easy points."

Bergeaud was full of praise for the Africans, saying: "We owe Angola a lot of respect. We saw them play in the first round, and we were aware of their ability to shoot the ball from three-point range. Tonight we showed again that in order to be competitive you have to respect your opponent."

France also did a good job frustrating Angola's sharp-shooter Olimpio Cipriano, who made just five of 18 shots in scoring 12 points. Still he did everything he could to help the African fight, collecting seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.

"I think the future is good for Angola. Next time we can be better. We left it too late in the game," Cipriano said.

The African champions got some good looks against the tight French defense in the first quarter but nothing would fall - as Angola made just 3 of 17 shots in the first 10 minutes. All three baskets came in the Angola transition.

Jeanneau came into the game averaging just 3.5 points per game in the first round. But he already had five points in the first seven minutes, on a driving layup and a three pointer as France opened a 13-2 lead. It was a 17-4 advantage with 1:16 in the quarter.

The French led 17-6 after the first period, but Gomes battled well on the blocks to keep the French from pulling further ahead, blocking two shots and altering another one.

Carlos Morais came off the bench for the second quarter and scored five straight points, trimming the deficit to 17-11. But Angola found themselves behind by double digits again 26-15 on Mickael Pietrus' three-pointer with 4:43 left. And Jeanneau's second trey with the shot clock running out made it 34-17 - the biggest lead of the game.

A Gomes dunk sparked a 7-0 Angola run to close the half, getting the deficit down to 10 at the break - 34-24.

France did an excellent job in the third quarter hitting big shots to stop Angola from making a run, leading 49-35 going into the fourth.

Mamoutou Diarra came off the bench and hit two key three-points early in the fourth quarter, the second giving France a 55-42 lead. But Les Bleus turned the ball over and Diarra and Gelabale each missed from beyond the arc.

That allowed Angola to make a 10-0 charge for 55-49 - the final points coming on a Gomes hook over Diaw, his second basket in three possessions against the French star.

Gelabale answered with a three-pointer and when Olimpio Cipriano missed a trey of his own and Jeanneau fed Florent Pietrus for a dunk, France were up 11 points again - 60-49 with 4:31 to go.

Angola refused to go down without a fight. After forcing Bergeaud's side into a shot clock violation, Eduardo Mingas put back an offensive rebound and completed the three-point play, leaving the Africans just four points back - 60-56 - with 1:08 to go.

Angola had a chance to make it a one-possession game when Frederic Weis missed two free throws with 49.7 seconds left. However Gomes missed one of two from the foul line with 38.9 seconds remaining and Jeanneau proved immune to the late game pressure.

He made two sets of two free throws to make it 64-56 with 20.5 seconds left. After Cipriano scored a driving layup, Florent Pietrus calmly buried his two foul shots. Morais banked in a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds to pull again within four points. But Jeanneau iced the game for good with two foul shots with 2.8 seconds remaining.

Mickael Pietrus said it was good to see guys like Jeanneau and Diarra step up on a team with a number of NBA stars.

"For years people talked of France as a team with these NBA players but having Mamoutou make those big shots and Aymeric sealing the deal with free throws shows there's much more to it than just the players from the NBA," Pietrus said.

By David Hein, FIBA