Nowitzki Leads Germany to Gold Medal Game

24.09.2005

By Kevin Anselmo

Dirk Nowitzki came up with another huge game and hit the game-winning shot with 3.9 seconds to go as  Germany upset Spain 74-73 in Belgrade to advance to their first gold medal game at the EuroBasket since 1993.

After Juan Carlos Navarro´s floater in the lane gave Spain a 73-72 advantage with 14 seconds to go, the Dallas Mavericks superstar who has carried the German squad on his shoulders for all of the tournament, hit a baseline jumper over the outstrecthed arm of Jorge Garbajosa to put Germany back in front.

“It was indescribable,” Nowitzki said of the final shot. “After I looked at Navarro´s shot go in I thought to myself that I wanted to start my offensive move with six seconds left so that way we could get an offensive rebound. Garbajosa kind of pushed me towards the baseline so I just went with it.”

Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain)
Juan Carlos Navarro nearly won the game for Spain
“Dirk hit a tough shot,” German head coach Dirk Bauermann said. “He bailed us out just like he did against Russia. That is why he is a super star and the leader of this team. But that doesn't take away from the team effort.”

Spain called timeout and discussed their strategy.

They inbounded the ball to Jose Manuel Calderon and he drove past mid-court to just a few feet behind the arc and had a clean look at a three-pointer, but his shot clanked off the rim, putting Nowitzki and Co  into a gold medal clash against Greece, who earlier stunned France.

As the buzzer sounded, Nowitzki circled the court with his right fist in the air and Germany´s squad celebrated a thrilling victory. They will look to continue their Cinderella story on Sunday after Spain take on France in the bronze medal contest.

Nowitzki finished with a game-high 27 points, 11 of those coming in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

He made five of 10 three-pointers,  with Germany connecting on 13 of 33 as a team. Spain struggled, shooting two-of-19 from behind the arc.

"If we had a shot a higher percentage from three-point range, then perhaps the outcome would have been different," said Pesquera.

Navarro, one night after finishing with a tournament-best 36 points, finished with 27 points and Fran Vazquez added 15.

Spain lost, despite outrebounding Germany 39-22.

Trailing by three to start the fourth quarter, Germany opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. Nowitzki scored five of those points with a tough fade away and a three-pointer.

“We had two bad stretches in the game,” said Pesquera.

After Spain broke the run, Nowitzki hit two more jumpers to give Germany their largest lead of 68-59 with 5:16 to go.

Spain were ice cold in the fourth quarter, scoring just two points through the first six minutes. However just when it appeared Germany had taken command, Spain mounted a late run.

Navarro hit two free throws with 2:06 to go, cutting Germany´s lead to five at 70-65.

After Denis Wucherer sank a 10-foot jump shot, Navarro answered with a lay-up and then added two free throws with 1:19 remaining after Pascal Roller´s turnover.

Germany again coughed the ball up with Mithat Demirel the guilty party, and Navarro hit a short jump shot to make it 72-71 with 48 seconds.

“We fought as a team, but we also made it difficult for ourselves,” Nowitzki said.

After Roller threw up a prayer with the shot clock running down and missed, Navarro once again came to the fore for his team, scoring the floater for the one-point lead.

Superman, aka Dirk Nowitzki, then struck with the dagger for the final margin, with Spain missing their last opportunity.

One night after a thrilling overtime victory over Croatia, Spain opened with a strong first quarter and jumped out to a 23-16 lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, Spain scored only 12 points but nevertheless led 35-34 as the half came to an end.

Germany´s poor shooting continued during the first five and half minutes of the third quarter. Nowitzki took just one shot and Germany scored five points and found themselves trailing 48-39.

Then Nowitzki connected on a three to end the drought and start Germany´s own 13-2 spurt to give the Germans a 52-50 lead – their first since the opening minutes of the game.

Spain closed the third quarter by going on a 7-2 run and were on top 57-54 going into the fourth.


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