LILLE, France (Reuters) - European championship host nation France beat Serbia 81-68 in the competition’s third-place playoff to win the bronze medal and secure a third successive podium finish on Sunday.
Having won the 2013 tournament after finishing runners-up in 2011, the French bounced back from a painful 80-75 semi-final defeat by Spain and brushed aside the Serbians.
France moved up a gear after a 37-32 halftime lead and outscored Serbia 21-12 in the third quarter.
Their more athletic outfit dominated the paint, collecting 43 rebounds to Serbia’s 29, and restricted their rivals to eight three-point goals from 31 attempts.
Serbia’s playmaker Milos Teodosic finished scoreless while his counterpart Tony Parker, a quadruple former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs, netted 13 at the other end.
Guard Nando De Colo was the game’s top scorer with 20 points and center Rudy Gobert poured 15 to go with 14 rebounds for the French, who received an ovation from their home crowd in Lille’s soccer stadium.
The venue, adapted for the knockout stages of the event, features Spain and Lithuania in a mouth-watering final later on Sunday (1700 GMT).
The Spaniards and the Lithuanians have secured automatic berths in next year’s Olympic Games while France, Serbia, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic will enter three intercontinental qualifying tournaments for an extra three spots.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; editing by Clare Fallon