After helping France gain a spot at the 2012 London Olympics, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker knew that there is still a job to be done.
Win the 2011 EuroBasket title.
Against a tough opponent in defending champion Spain, Parker did his best scoring 26 points for France but got little help and could not bring his team its first continental title.
With both teams trading baskets in the opening quarter, Oklahoma City Thurder’s Serge Ibaka had five blocks in the second quarter helping Spain to build a 10-point lead and keep the French nationals at bay.
Rudy Fernandez of the Dallas Mavericks earned himself the wrath of the French nation, when he yanked Parker in mid-air as the French superstar was going for a layup.
Fernandez earned an unsportsmanlike foul leaving Parker lying momentarily motionless on the court. But to the relief of everyone (especially Spurs fans!) Parker got back to his feet, hitting the two subsequent free throws to put his team on a 7-0 run and bring France within, 46-41 late in the second quarter.
However, Spain scored the last four points in the first half to push their lead to 50-41 at halftime.
Parker and Team France came within six points in the third period but a 7-0 run keyed by a 3-pointer from Juan Carlos Navarro restored Spain’s lead to double-digits.
Spain won its second straight European basketball title Sunday, beating France 98-85 behind Navarro’s 27 points.
Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Spain, which became the first repeat champion since Yugoslavia in 1997.
Navarro’s performance followed a 35-point game in the semifinal win over Macedonia and earned him the Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.
Parker led France with 26 points, five assists, five rebounds and a steal but also had five turnovers in 39 minutes of play.
Charlotte Bobcats’ Boris Diaw had 12 points, while Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah added 11 and eight rebounds for the French nationals.
Spurs draftee Nando De Colo who is coming off a good game against Russia, finished with just two points, one assist and two steals in 14 minutes for France.
In the bronze-medal game, Aleksey Shved scored the last four points to give Russia a 72-68 victory over Macedonia. American-born guard Bo McCalebb led Macedonia with 22 points.