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. Spain beat Croatia 92-66 earlier Sunday to earn the bronze medal. Guard Antoine Diot all but secured France’s victory with a 3-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter, after a Lithuania turnover gave France the possession with 0.9 seconds left. Diaw threw the ball to Diot, who nailed a 3 that was upheld after the referees viewed the video to make sure he had beaten the clock. Batum finished the first half with 17 points, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and making three of four 3-pointers. Diaw took over in the third, scoring 11 points on drives to the basket and outside shots. “We didn’t do a bad job defending Parker, but we forgot about the others,” Lithuania coach Jonas Kazlauskas said. France coach Vincent Collet said his team had learned from the times it came up short in the past. “It wasn’t the easiest way, but we improved starting with the quarterfinals.
Air France-KLM board in crossfire over Alitalia stake
France won its first ever European title on Sunday, pulling away from Lithuania in the second quarter and cruising to an 80-66 win. France did it with a lineup that should look pretty familiar to Spurs fans Parker, Boris Diaw , and Nando De Colo . But it was another NBA player who key on Sunday in Slovenia. Portlands Nicolas Batum took control in the second quarter when France pulled away with an 18-3 run that led to a 31-12 quarter for France. Batum hit a few threes and finished with a team high 17 points on the night, plus six boards. Lithuania led by three after one quarter mostly thanks to Linas Kleiza but after the run they were down 16 at the half and the entire second half felt was like a coronation for France. The outcome was never really in doubt those final 20 minutes. For past couple weeks of the European championships Parker has been the best player on the court, but in the championship game he was a cold (4-of-14 to start, he hit 2 of his last 3 and finished with 12 points). But the win is all he will care about Parker has been incredibly loyal to the French national team for years and has said a European championship was something he really wanted on his resume. Now he has it. The Raptors Jonas Valanciunas had looked strong through the tournament but he played just 11 minutes in the finals and had no points and three rebounds. He had some foul trouble but not going to him more was an odd coaching choice. Diaw added 15 points and six boards for France. Kleiza had 20 points to lead Lithuania.
Behind Parker and Batum, France cruises to first European championship
The board of Air France-KLM, which owns 25 percent of Alitalia after helping it out of bankruptcy in 2008, was due to meet at 1600 GMT as Alitalia prepares to tap shareholders for cash for a second time this year, people close to the matter said. Alitalia is in the midst of a new crisis as it faces a cash shortfall of some 400 million euros ($540 million) and private Italian shareholders, who also took part in the 2008 rescue, become free to sell their shares when a lock-up expires in a month’s time. Air France-KLM will discuss whether to maintain its stake by participating in a capital increase, risk upsetting unions and the Dutch side of the company by raising its stake, or risk a Franco-Italian row by turning its back on its partner in the Skyteam alliance of airlines. Any extra investment could be a hard sell with the Franco-Dutch firm’s shareholders and workers, as it is in the midst of cutting costs and jobs in a bid to bring down its own debts. But the company will also be keen to protect the value of its existing investment and maintain access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market. Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi raised the stakes hours ahead of the meeting on Monday by saying Italy would not oppose an increase in Air France-KLM’s stake to 50 percent, effectively opening the door to foreign control. “I expect that Air France will strongly reaffirm that Alitalia is a strategic asset for Air France, and therefore that there will be a strengthening of Air France’s role,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Milan. “We ask that Air France does not consider Alitalia and (Rome airport) Fiumicino as an appendix, but a strategic asset for the development of European air transport.” Lupi is a political ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who opposed proposals to have Air France-KLM take control of Alitalia in 2008, and instead asked a group of Italian investors to take over the loss-making carrier. POLITICALLY SENSITIVE Alitalia has moved aggressively to cut costs in recent years, but remains severely hampered by low-cost competition in its European markets, poor demand on its domestic routes due to Italy’s debt crisis and the rise of high-speed trains, as well as insufficient capital to invest in long-haul fleets. Earlier this year, Air France-KLM participated in its share of a 150 million euro shareholder loan to keep Alitalia afloat. Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac pledged in July not to put up more money without tough conditions. “In the past few weeks the management of Air France-KLM have been more open towards an increase in the stake rather than just taking part in a capital increase,” a union source briefed on the discussions said, asking not to be named.