|24 August 2003|
From Johannes Berendt, PA International, Braunschweig
France coach Alain Weisz admitted the departure of German superstar Dirk Nowitzki in the second period of Sunday`s Super Cup final had thrown his side.
Nowitzki had to go to hospital after injuring his ankle contesting the ball with Florent Pietrus and is a worry for next month`s European Championships in Sweden.
There is little doubt that much of France's pre-game planning would have been about how to stop the Dallas Mavericks ace and his exit seem to unsettle them more than it did Germany.
"Today it was very tough and a little tight," said Weisz, whose side eventually triumphed 76-68 after outscoring Germany 16-7 in the last four minutes.
"It was very difficult after Nowitzki was out because we didn't know exactly what to do.
But then we did a lot of good things in defence," he added.
"I want to wish Nowitzki a quick recovery. We have a lot of respect for him."
France's own NBA stars Tony Parker and Tariq Abdul-Wahad were the key performers for their side in Braunschweig, scoring 18 and 16 points respectively.
France were leading before Nowitzki's injury but then found themselves down 55-52.
The lead kept changing hands until San Antonio Spurs guard Parker launched a long three-pointer to make it 63-61.
He then added an assist, a couple of free-throws and an additional triple to sink the Germans in the closing stages.