By: Freaknick (Quotes courtesy of FIBA’s Eurobasket Game Report…thanks guys)

Teemu Rannikko, a thorn in France's side all day longFor those who would have you believe there’s no such thing as a moral victory, meet your 2009 Finland basketball team.  Despite mathematical elimination from the Eurobasket qualifying round, they showed up and knocked a formidable French team on its ass.  After young gun Nando De Colo (18 points) hit a triple to put France up 72-70 with 3:47 left, Petteri Koponen (15) and Teemu Rannikko (21, and pictured at left) took it upon themselves to lead Finland to the improbable victory.  After the game, Rannikko rhapsodized in most poetic fashion:

“The transcript in my head was exactly the same like in the game against Italy when I missed the game-winning-shot. Only that the actor failed to perform accordingly back then……This has got to be the sweetest victory of my National Team career.”

And don’t be fooled by circumstance; France was not treating this game like a throwaway.  Our favorite Desperate Househusband Tony Parker played 31 minutes and only managed 4 points in the contest, with other big names like De Colo, Florent Pietrus, Boris Diaw and Antoine Diot each playing over 23 minutes apiece.  Diot, who hit all five of his shots for 15 points, had this to say about Finland’s gutsy performance:

“It was a very difficult game tonight. And we made it difficult for ourselves. Finland played a perfect game. Möttölä, Rannikko and Koponen found the way to the rim at the end and they won with their heart.”

So here’s to you, Finland. With nothing on the line but national pride, you puffed your chests out, gritted your teeth and went to work.  Next in line for a heavy dose of patriotic hoopage: Team Italy.  How do you wish someone “good luck” in Italian?  I’m not sure, but I’ll do you one better: hear are some words from a proud Papa of a bunch of scrappy Finns:

Henrik Dettmann, Finland coach:

“This was a great team victory for us. There’s really no need for motivating the guys when you are playing against players of this calibre. This kind of victories are not an everyday-thing for Finnish basketball. We look at these qualifiers as a great learning experience - first we learn to play against these big countries and hopefully in time we will learn to really challenge them on a regular basis. This was a great win and now we head to Italy hungry for more.”