By David Hein
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and grabbed five rebounds as Germany overwhelmed Ukraine 84-58 on Saturday in Vrsac to keep alive their chances of winning Group A at the 2005 EuroBasket.
The Germans bounced back well from their overtime loss to Italy and took charge of the game in the first quarter and never let the game slip out of their hands at the Millenium Center.
"The way the team bounced back from that loss and played today, the guys really deserve a great amount of respect," German coach Dirk Bauermann said.
What helped was knowing that Russia easily beat Italy earlier in the evening, giving the Germans better chances of finishing first or second in the group.
|Dirk Nowitzki |
"We were especially motivated because we knew where we stood," Marco Pesic said.
Nowitzki and Co. face Russia on Sunday with a chance of heading Group A with a 15-point victory. While Ukraine - with two losses - take on Italy knowing not even a victory over the 2003 European bronze medallists and 2004 Olympic silver winners Italy will secure them a spot in Tuesday's elimination match.
The Dallas Mavericks star Nowitzki started the first quarter determined to take the ball to the basket to create foul situations - something he didn't do much against the Italians.
"Dirk is one of the best players in the NBA. And he knows his strengths. Yes, we talked about him going more to the basket, but I don't think it was really necessary," Bauermann said.
Led by Nowitzki, Germany used a 9-0 run to open an early 17-9 lead. Ukraine were able to stay within 12 for the rest of the half before Nowitzki hit a buzzer-beater for a 47-32 advantage with 18 points by Nowitzki.
"We won this game in the first half," Robert Maras said. "Holding onto the lead was important for us."
Like against Italy, Germany again proved strong coming out of the halftime break with an 8-0 run to make it 55-32.
"If you come out of the break with great fire and intensity, that's a great sign that the team is ready, in good shape and determined," Bauermann said.
Ukraine couldn't muster a challenge with the advantage going to 30 with four minutes left.
The Germans came into the tournament knowing they couldn't win only with Nowitzki. Patrick Femerling again stepped up with 10 points and six rebounds. Every German player scored, and the team shot 54 per cent from the field.
Ukraine was paced by Los Angeles Lakers forward Stanislav Medvedenko's 15 points while Serhiy Lischchuk scored 13 and Oleksiy Pecherov 10.