Germany And Turkey Expect Physical Battle In 2001 Semi Final Rematch

20.09.2005

The main characters from back then are all still there as Germany and Turkey face off on Tuesday in Vrsac in a rematch of the 2001 semi-final for the right to make the 2005 EuroBasket quarters.

"We don't have many good memories about Turkey," said German star Dirk Nowitzki, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the 79-78 overtime loss to Turkey in 2001.

But the Germans have been playing solid defense this campaign, and they have Nowitzki - who leads the tournament in scoring (26 ppg) and rebounds (13.0).

"They will give their all to stop Dirk and probably play different guys on him," German coach Dirk Bauermann said.

And the coach expects the cross-elimination match between Germany - second in Group A - and Turkey - third in Group B - to be a physical battle.

"They are very physical. They play smart and don't beat themselves," Bauermann said. "We have to physically hold our own. This game will be decided on the defensive side of the ball. And at the end, Dirk and the rest will find a way to win."

The winner moves onto the quarter-finals where they will face Slovenia on Friday in Belgrade.

Nowitzki has carried the Germans so far, with just enough help from the rest of the team offensively. Center Patrick Femerling is the closest Bauermann has to a regular offensive contributer with 10 points per game in the first round. Otherwise, the German offense features role players as six players are averaging between 4 and 6.7 points.

But Germany's strength has been their team comraderie.

"We've almost overachieved, and we have to keep on doing that," Bauermann said following Germany come-from-behind 51-50 victory over Russia. "The win gives us a lot of confidence. Sometimes an unexpected win can give you great momentum. But if we don't win (against Turkey), everything we did doesn't mean a damn thing."

Turkey for their part have underachieved - with losses to Lithuania and Croatia and a close victory against Bulgaria. And team chemistry apparently is less than perfect.

Orlando Magic forward Hidayet Turkoglu - who scored 24 points in leading Turkey to the victory against Germany in 2001 - said the rumored problems have not contributed to the team's poor performance: "I don't think there is anything to that."

"Our problems have been more mental," Turkish coach Bogdan Tanjevic said.

The team travelled from Podgorica to Vrsac - a trip of about 600 kilometers by plane and then bus - on Monday and didn't practice Monday night.

"It will be a tough game for sure. (Germany) will be waiting for us," Turkoglu said. "It is difficult to go on the road and travel, but that's what we have to do."

Turkoglu and Mirsad Turkcan have been Tanjevic's leading weapons, averaging 12.7 and 11.3 points, respectively, and Turkcan leading the team with four rebounds.

But Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur has struggled, averaging just 21 minutes and 8.7 points a game.

"Okur has struggled a little, and he's due to have a break-out game against us," Bauermann said.

And Ibrahim Kutluay will not play because of a broken finger on his shooting hand. The shooting ace did not play against Croatia in the team's final Group B match.

Turkoglu wishes he knew the answers to Turkey's problem: "We've been way too up and down. It's hard to win against talented and experienced teams when you play like that."


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