|24 August 2003|
From Johannes Berendt, PA International, Braunschweig
Germany suffered a double blow on Sunday night after being beaten by France in the Super Cup final and also losing superstar Dirk Nowitzki to injury.
Nowitzki limped out of the action midway through the second period after damaging his ankle jostling for the ball with Florent Pietrus.
The Dallas Mavericks forward was immediately taken to hospital and initial fears are that the two-time NBA All-Star and MVP at last year`s World Championships could miss the upcoming European Championships in Sweden.
The results of Nowitzki's MRI scan will not be known until Monday but Germany`s team doctor said they will try everything in their power to get him into rehab as soon as possible.
Germany coach Henrik Dettman was trying his best to remain in a positive frame of mind.
"I'm always optimistic and won't think about his absence until it's proven," he said.
"He's a very good player on one foot, but he's even better on two!"
Germany were 23-21 down against France when Nowitzki, winning his 50th cap, sustained the injury.
The 6,200 crowd in Braunschweig who until that point had been in vociferous mood were stunned into silence by the departure of their hero, fully aware of the ramifications his absence could cause at Eurobasket.
The 25-year-old was all set to take the tournament by storm and with him Germany had realistic goals of pushing for gold.
His recent form in the Super Cup competition had been inspired and he entered the final after scoring 37 points against Croatia on Saturday.
Germany recovered from Nowitzki`s loss to take a 61-60 lead before French point guard Tony Parker took over with two three-pointers, a couple of free throws and a brilliant assist, leading his side to a 76-68 victory.
Ademola Okulaja finished with a team-high 17 points for a Germany side that coach Dettman believes was found wanting in their three-point shooting.
"You need to make shots to win games, especially at this level," he said.
"We hit three out of 25 from long distance. When you play against a zone, you just have to make shots."