By Yarone Arbel
Turning point: In the 26th minutes Jan-Hendrik Jagla hit an open three to cut the margin to one, 47-46, only to see his team suffer a 20-4 run which decided the game. Late in the third and early in the fourth Germany committed no less than six turnovers in a row, all of them live balls that pushed F.Y.R.O.M. far beyond reach.
Hero: Vrbica Stefanov of F.Y.R. of Macedonia saved his best performance for the most important game, and won't rest until he helps his team make more history. He finished a huge game with 25 points on 73% shooting from the field and five steals - the second best individual high in the entire tournament. Stefanov scored ten points already in the first quarter and added eight in the third to bring his team 40 minutes from the quarter-finals.
Stats: F.Y.R.O.M. wrote 14 steals on the night against only four of Germany. Stefanov himself had more than the entire German team. Those extra possessions and easy fast break points made the difference.
A big second half run enabled F.Y.R. of Macedonia to write their first win in the Qualifying Round 86-75 over Germany on the second day of action in Group E in Bydgoszcz.
F.Y.R.O.M. now stand on a 1-3 record, tied with Germany, as both teams still hold a chance to make it to the Quarter-Finals.
A tied game in the first half saw a much better F.Y.R.O.M. team in the second half who took over the floor on the way to their second ever EuroBasket Final Round win.
|Vrbica Stefanov is one of the oldest players in the tournament and one of the most effective, with 25 points on Sunday.|
"He's probably the best player in his age right now in Europe," said Germany's Coach Dirk Bauermann on Vrbica Stefanov who led F.Y.R.O.M. to the big win.
The veteran point guard scored 25 points on 73% shooting from the field and added five steals, which are the second best individual highs in the tournament thus far.
Jeremiah Massey added 16 while Pero Antic and Dime Tasovski had 13 each.
Tasovski had five steals too and hit three times from distance, to write his tournament high right in the key game for his team.
Lucca Staiger had 14 points for Germany, including four downtown arrows, Patrick Femerling added 13, Tim Ohlbrecht added 13 with two blocks and Demond Greene scored ten.
"I think our young players played well today yet some of the veterans were struggling a bit," admitted Bauermann.
It was a 20-4 run late in the third and early in the fourth that pushed F.Y.R.O.M. from a one point lead to a 67-50 margin in the 31st minute.
Germany committed no less than six live ball turnovers in a row to allow that run and see the game slip from their hands.
"We played better defense for 20-25 minutes and when we started to shoot good as well we opened a gap to decide the game," commented Coach Jovica Arsic.
F.Y.R.O.M. scored only a single bucket inside the arc the entire first quarter but had four three-pointers to rely on and hold an 18-14 margin after ten minutes, behind ten early points by Vrbica Stefanov.
Lucca Staiger came off the bench and with three downtown hits in three minutes to put Germany on top, 28-26.
Femerling's shot jumped on the rim before going in and in the next play he forced a turnover as the teams continued to go neck-to-neck.
Gecevski attacked the rim with efficiency and created a headache for Coach Bauermann but his team still couldn't gather enough points for a run.
Once again Femerling showed his activity and was the first of his team to go to the free throw line after almost 18 minutes in the game.
His nine first half points and no less than seven three-pointers on 50% shooting made it a 36-36 tie at the break.
F.Y.R.O.M. earned their biggest lead, 47-40 with a big dunk by Massey but Staiger was still on fire and hit again from distance only to see Jagla follow him and cut the margin to one.
A time out called by Coach Arsic changed things in favor of his team.
Two steals in a row by F.Y.R.O.M. capped by a buzzer beater catch and shoot by Pero Antic set the margin on 12 at the end of the third quarter, 62-50 behind a 15-4 run in which four players scored.
If Germany had any plans to come back they were shattered quickly inside the fourth with three additional turnovers, which allowed F.Y.R.O.M. to push it to a 17 point lead, and decide the night.
"We were paralyzed a bit and wanted maybe a little too much and that probably created that series of turnovers," explained Bauermann.
"We had a tough loss two days ago but just like it happened with our tough loss to Greece and then the win over Israel we recovered quickly," analyzed Tasovski.
"Now we need to beat Russia and make it to the Quarter-Finals."
Germany will take on Croatia on the last day of the group while today's winners will fight against Russia.