Slovenian Steamroller

10.09.2007

By David Hein

Matjaz Smodis led three players in double figure scoring with 22 points as Slovenia remained undefeated at the 2007 EuroBasket with a 77-47 thrashing of Germany to set up their top-of-Group F clash with Lithuania - a showdown of the final two perfect teams in Madrid.

Radoslav Nesterovic tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots and Jaka Lakovic collected 12 points and five assists for the winners, who improved to 4-0.

Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
Nowitzki was the only player to score in double-digits for Germany.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points and had eight rebounds to lead Germany, who shot just 28% (17-of-60) for the game.

Ademola Okulaja was the next best scorer for Germany with five points.

"We played very well tonight. We didn't expect the game to turn out how it did, but we still had to play hard until the end," said Lakovic.

When asked if he expected the Slovenians to be undefeated after playing Germany, the Barcelona guard said: "No, but then again we didn't expect to be undefeated before this game either. But we go game by game and don't look too far ahead."

"We stopped Nowitzki and their shooters," said Slovenia coach Ales Pipan.

"We played extremely good on defense, and played very good on rebounds. We deserved the win tonight, and we were the better team on court."

The Germans, on the other hand, were desolate.

"There's really not much to say. It was a horrible first quarter, maybe the worst first quarter I've ever seen from the German team since I started to coach them," said German coach Dirk Bauermann.

"Not only didn't we score but we were also terrible on defense. Once you are having a bad start like that, down by 21 after 10 minutes, it's almost impossible to come back. I don't know why it happened. It was really disappointing. But today isn't Wednesday. On Wednesday we play a championship game for the fourth place (against Italy)."

"There's no excuse or explanation for what happened today. We all embarrassed ourselves. Games like that, as bad as they are, I don't think they define who you are or what you are. What defines you is the ability to bounce back, and we will bounce back."

Germany couldn't get anything going offensively in the first quarter but still trailed only 13-7 when Slovenia went on a 17-2 surge to pull away by 21 points after one period, 30-9.

In the second quarter, Uros Slokar picked up where he left off from his heroics against Turkey by scoring nine straight points as Slovenia extended their lead to 39-16 midway through the period.

German coach Dirk Bauermann tried his best to find a line-up that would work.

Eventually he saw Demond Greene hit a three-pointer and Nowitzki convert a three-point play as the Germans trimmed the deficit to 20 points.

That, however, was as close as they would get the rest of the way as the advantage was back up to 23 points, 45-22, at the break with Germany shooting just 29% (9-of-31) from the floor in the first 20 mintues.

Slovenia continued to dominate in the third period as a Smodis long bomb pushed Ales Pipan's team ahead 50-22 two minutes into the half.

Bauermann's troops tried to chip away, getting the margin back down to 24 points, 52-28.

But the Slovenians remained unstoppable, increasing their lead to 30 on their way to a 63-34 cushion going into the fourth quarter.

Both coaches emptied their benches in the final 10 minutes and Slovenia never let up, even pushing the advantage to 36 points, 75-39, with 3:45 remaining.


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