By Yarone Arbel
Germany finished their EuroBasket 2007 performance with an 80-71 win over Croatia in the 5-6 classification game.
Croatia tried to ride the wave of their good performance last night, and led for almost 30 minutes, but once Germany took over the game went in one direction.
Dirk Nowitzki made sure to leave EuroBasket 2007 with a sweet taste.
After several human performances he once again stepped up finishing the game with 31 points on 59% from the field and 12 rebounds, in addition to four assists.
Marko Banic showed his best game today for Croatia with 16 points and only two missed shots, but that wasn't enough to surrender the Germans who forced 18 turnovers on the Croatian side.
"You always want to go out with a win, with a good feeling, with a dream for everybody," shared Germany's center, Patrick Femerling in what might be his last EuroBasket game.
"We tried to do that and played hard and gave everything we had."
Croatia counted on the Marko's – Banic and Tomas to grant them a 9-2 run in the opening minutes, but Dirk Nowitzki led Germany back to tie the game with a 7-0 run.
The teams were neck-and-neck before Nikola Prkacin carried Croatia on another run, this time 0-9, the shut down the first quarter with his team up 25-16.
Marko Popovic gave Croatia their first double-digit lead of the day early in the second quarter, and an unsportsmanlike foul by Herber halfway through the quarter didn't help Germany.
Going down to the locker rooms Croatia was up 44-36, but that margin sustained for at least seven more minutes until Germany came to life.
Jan-Hendrik Jagla and Nowitzki carried yet another 9-2 run to give Germany their first lead of the night, 58-57, with 1:25 to play in the third quarter.
No points were added until the buzzer, but Germany woke up first scoring the first four points in the last period.
Prkacin made it a one point game, before Germany's back court fired from long range to open a 70-61 lead.
Croatia never managed to test the German lead from that point.
"We reached our goal which was to finish among the top seven teams and make the pre-Olympic tournament," concluded Croatian guard, Roko-Leni Ukic, ""but we have a lot to learn from this tournament."
"We had a lot of highs and lows and did a lot of good things and bad things. We have to improve on that before next year."
Germany goes home with the fifth spot while Croatia is taking the sixth.
Both teams will play in next summer's in the pre-Olympic tournament.