Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points as Germany's defense shut down Turkey 66-57 on Tuesday in Vrsac, setting up a EuroBasket 2005 quarter-final show with Slovenia.
The Dallas Mavericks star had his third double-double of the tournament, collecting 10 rebounds as well as three blocks and an assist at the Millenium Center.
Slovenia, who went undefeated in Group C, will face Germany on Friday in their quarter-final in Belgrade.
|Pascal Roller stepped up for Germany against Turkey|
The Turks were up 38-29 early in the third, but Pascal Roller hit back-to-back three-pointers and Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 straight points - his three with 2:58 evening the game at 45-45. Germany were up two - 48-46 after three periods.
Bauermann said Roller's two three-pointers were the turning point.
"Those were huge shots. It was important that somebody else other than Dirk hit some shots," the coach said.
And Nowitzki got help in the fourth quarter as well. Mithat Demirel and Robert Maras combined for 10 points as Germany pulled away from the Turks, outscoring them 28-11 in the fourth. The German defense allowed just 23 points in the second half.
Bauermann called Nowitzki's performance Superman-like. "He makes every team in the world look great. It was super human what he did tonigiht. He made shots you have to be Superman to make."
Nowitzki came into the game shooting 39 per cent from the field. On Tuesday, he made 8-15 from the field including 3-5 on threes. He also hit 14 of 15 free throws.
"It's impossible to stop him," Turkish coach Bogdan Tanjevic said of Nowitzki. "I'm really satisfied with my team and how they played against him. He made some very very difficult shots in crucial times."
Hidayet Turkoglu missed four free throws and committed a charging foul in the last seven minutes as Turkey tried coming back.
Kaya Peker led the Turks with 16 points. Serkan Erdogan and Emal Kurtoglu each scored 11 while Hidayet Turkoglu scored 10 on 2-15 shooting.
Turkey started the second straight game with Utah Jazz star Mehmet Okur and lethal wing player Mirsad Turkcan on the bench. Okur finished with just two points and nine rebounds and Turkcan had five.
"We needed another shoooter to get some points from the outside," Tanjevic said.
Sharp-shooting Ibrahim Kutluay was forced out of his second game with a broken finger on his shooting hand.
"I'm a leader and the captain, and I could have helped my team in the crucial moments. But it's easy to talk after the game," Kutluay said.
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."