Turning Point: Germany gave themselves every chance to win but perhaps inexperience told. In crunch time, they went away from some of the basics which had served them well, especially in making rotations to get open shots, and over the closing minutes, the opportunities disappeared.
Stats Don't Lie: Ukraine had 21 points off turnovers, with Germany just five. Their fast breaking was surprisingly effective and it underlined some of the lapses in Germany's defence.
Game Hero: Sergii Gladyr had a game-high 25 points and he was instrumental in a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter that gave his team the lead for good after the Germans had hauled themselves back from 16 behind.
Ukraine moved to the brink of securing a spot in the second round of EuroBasket by grinding out an 88-83 victory over Germany on Friday which maintained their perfect start in Group A.
|Sergii Gladyr had 25 points for Ukraine who just keep on winning, silencing many with their unprecedented run|
Sergii Gladyr was instrumental as Mike Fratello's side held off a frenetic fourth quarter rally which saw their rivals storm back from trailing by as much as 16 late in the third with an 18-4 run.
But the German challenge ran out of steam and with a 1-2 record, they will now have to fight to progress. Ukraine, however, are buoyant. "We just believed in each other," said point guard Pooh Jeter.
"Once we stepped on that court, we knew it was Germany's third game too. So we just went into the game and we wanted it. We wanted to win so bad. We wanted to advance into the next round and now we have to put our focus on France."
The Germans - eventually paced by 22 points and 11 rebounds from Robin Benzing - had seemed set to dominate following an early 10-0 run but Jeter quickly sparked a response that saw Ukraine hit back to take the lead with 10 straight points. The advantage went back and forth but Germany's shooting from long range went off-target and they were hit by a barrage.
A 13-2 burst propelled Ukraine towards a 39-30 half-time advantage and they kept the tempo high and their defence in the paint tight. Two more threes from Jeter, and support from versatile centre Kyryl Natyazhko saw a 9-0 flurry that eventually pushed their side 62-46 clear with 2:41 left in the third.
The Germans were forced to scramble, looking inside to Benzing and on the perimeter for anything available. Philip Zwiener hit a three which reduced the deficit to 64-57 entering the final period and the revival continued with Niels Giffney, who added 16 points, hitting a three-pointer which gave his team a 74-73 lead with 3:26 left.
But the outstanding Natyazhko responded in kind and although Heiko Schaffartzik levelled again with two free throws, Gladyr stepped up to will Ukraine to victory.
"In the end, it came down to the little things that Ukraine did well, and that we didn't do," said Benzing. "They hit tough shots, they got good rebounds, same as we did two days against France. And they deserved to win."