Having both secured a spot in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament with wins on Saturday, Germany and Croatia will meet Sunday to decide between fifth and sixth place at EuroBasket 2007.
Both teams had struggled to win games prior to their wins on Saturday though Croatia had lost four straight by slim margins while for the Germans it was the second straight time they had bounced back from a hefty defeat, having fallen to hosts Spain by 28 the night before.
“It was a long hard summer and I’m just really happy they were rewarded,” said German coach Dirk Bauermann after the win.
“If you work so hard and go home with nothing, that’s so hard. So this keeps our dream (of going to the Olympics) alive.”
Germany trailed for a large portion of their game with Slovenia while Croatia led their game with France more or less from start to finish.
“It was very hard to forget last night’s game,” said forward Damir Markota, referring to their gut-wrenching loss to Lithuania in the quarter-finals.
“We came here to be in the Olympic qualifications so we wanted to play hard for that.”
With both teams secondary mission accomplished there is little on the line but the pride of finishing fifth instead of sixth.
Last result: Germany beat Slovenia 69-65, Croatia beat France 86-69.
Key Match-up: Nikola Prkacin vs. Dirk Nowitzki. The key with Germany is always controlling their superstar and this game will be no different.
X-Factor: Joe Herber. Herber was proven that he is capable of stepping up in big games as he did against Italy where he scored 18 points. Since that time though he has turned in just seven total points including a goose egg against Slovenia in which he didn’t even take a shot.
Stats: Croatia improved their three-point shooting in the win over France, hitting eight of 19 (42%). They had made just fewer than 33% of their three-pointers in the four previous games, all loses.
Sounding off: “As far as out team goes, I’m proud of them. When we were down nine there were a lot of concerned faces. But I knew that if we defence and kept moving that we would have a chance and the guys did that.” –Germany Coach Dirk Bauermann