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Eurobasket-FRA/CZE - Gruda leads France to bronze
LODZ (EuroBasket Women) - France beat the Czech Republic 63-56 in the Bronze Medal Game at the EuroBasket Womento finish the tournament on a positive note.
Both teams had already qualified for the Olympic Qualiying Tournament by virtue of finishing inside the top five.
France, whose title defence came to an end after they were beaten 68-62 by Turkey in Friday's Semi-Final, bounced back from that disappointment to take some silverware home.
The Czechs got off to the better start to lead 20-15 at the end of the first quarter and 30-24 at the break.
But Les Bleues came out with more energy in the third period to tie the score at 43 heading into the final frame.
With Sandrine Gruda scoring at will - she had a game-high 26 points - the French went ahead using a 9-0 run.
Captain Celine Dumerc hit a three-pointer with 3:56 left to play to put Pierre Vincent's side up 54-47 and they held on.
"We gave everything we had to take this bronze medal," Gruda said afterwards.
"We have qualified for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and got a medal after a very tough contest against a very determined team. We can't ask for more.
"We accomplished what we set out in our preparations.
"We left it all on the floor and we got a win. So we have no regrets."
Dumerc said the result was a welcome one after what had been a long and exhausting tournament
"We finish on a win, with a medal to show for it. It's been a long, tiring and emotional competition," she said.
Dumerc's backcourt mate Edwige Lawson-Wade, who had not played for France since 2007, had no doubts she made the right decision by returning to the national team set-up.
"No regrets at all. It was the right decision. This was a great experience to be a part of."
Czech Republic head coach pointed out the mistakes that cost his team the game but overall was happy to be in a position to qualify for the Olympic Games.
"Today was a tough game. We had too many turnovers and we didn't get to the free-throw line enough," he said.
"Overall I am proud of my team and what they have accomplished by qualifying for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. It was our goal to do so."
France, the Czech Republic and Croatia will be joined by the loser of the Final - Turkey or Russia - in next year's Olympic Qualifying Tournament.