Group Honours At Stake

05.09.2007

By David Hein

Group C honours will be up for grabs when Germany and Dirk Nowitzki take on the balanced powerhouse Lithuania with star playmaker Sarunas Jasikevicius.
 
Both teams come into the contest in Palma de Mallorca with undefeated 2-0 records after both beating the Czech Republic and Turkey. The winner will also take a 2-0 record into the qualifying round - and be a step ahead in the race for the semi-finals.
 
Sarunas Jasikevicius (LTU) - Jakub Houska (CZE)
Jasikevicius is leading the
way for Lithuania
Last Time Out: Lithuania dominated Czech Republic 95-75 and Germany pasted Turkey 79-49.
 
Key Match-up:
Patrick Femerling/Jan Jagla against Darjus and Ksistof Lavrinovic. The Lithuanian twin brother big men love to play outside and can run the floor like players half their size. German veteran Femerling doesn't have the speed or stamina to keep up with the Lavrinovics, meaning that Jagla may be called upon to prove himself against Lithuania's big guns.
 
Statistics:
Germany must play relentless defense to upset Lithuania, who have made 49% (19-of-39) of their shots from three-point range. But the 2003 EuroBasket champions have been a bit sloppy with the ball, averaging 17.5 turnovers.
 
X-Factor:
Nowitzki cannot beat Lithuania alone and everyone knows that. But the reigning NBA MVP is averaging 29.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. However, the key will be which one or two other Germans step up and give him the boost he needs offensively. Top candidates could be Jagla or possibly Demond Greene.
 
Sounding Off: Despite being the 2005 silver medallists, German coach Dirk Bauermann sees Lithuania as the favourites here. "We're the underdogs. But we're not afraid of anybody and we'll give it our best shot. It's not like we're going to lay down. They have maybe the best point guard in Europe (Jasikevicius) - up there with (Spain's Jose) Calderon. But if we play at this level (like against Turkey) we can beat everybody."

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