MADRID (Reuters) – European champions France claimed the bronze medal in the basketball World Cup after a superb performance by Nicolas Batum helped them to a 95-93 win over Lithuania in the third-place match on Saturday.
In a repeat of the 2013 European championship final, the French again got the better of the Baltic nation after versatile 25-year-old shooting guard Batum racked up 27 points in a thrilling encounter.
The Lithuanians looked like avenging last year’s defeat when they carved out a 71-64 lead at the end of the third quarter but a 16-4 run at the start of the final period helped France swing the match their way.
Batum nailed a pair of free throws with three seconds left to secure a first World Cup podium finish for his side who were missing several top players including four-times NBA champion Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.
Parker’s Spurs team mate Boris Diaw collected 15 points while power forward Joffrey Lauvergne and playmaker Thomas Heurtel chipped in with 13 each.
Holders United States meet the tournament’s surprise packages Serbia in Sunday’s final in Madrid’s City Arena.