By David Hein
The rest of Europe better wake up and realise Germany are a real team - with the emphasis on the word team.
"Slovenia were arrogant enough to under-estimate us," Dirk Nowitzki said after Germany advanced to the semi-finals of the 2005 EuroBasket with a 76-62 victory against Slovenia on Friday. "They said we were the team they wanted, and that was wrong. You shouldn't do that in the quarter-finals."
||I couldn't be more proud of the guys. We all just hung together and played our hearts out
Dirk Bauermann's side read reports that Slovenia had wished for Germany in the quarter-final rather than Turkey. Those comments in addition to thousands of Slovenian fans in the Belgrade Arena stands gave the team even more motivation.
When asked what it felt like to silence thousands of stunned Slovenian fans at the game's end, Nowitzki said: "It was a great feeling."
Germany's team work again was the key to the game.
"On offense, it didn't matter who was leading the way. Tonight everyone was hitting their big shots," Nowitzki said. "I couldn't be more proud of the guys. We all just hung together and played our hearts out."
Another key was Germany's strong start, something they were unable to do earlier in the tournament.
"It was really important to start the game well and to get rid of some of the nervousness," Nowitzki said.
It was equally vital to make sure the Slovenians didn't find their game.
"If they had found their rhythm they would have been hard to stop," Germany's center Patrick Femerling said. "We didn't back down when it got rough and physical. And it was a very physical game."
Helping in all matter was the fact that Bauermann's team was especially effective behind the three-point line, from where they shot 48 per cent.
"We wanted to shoot too much from the outside against Russia," said Pascal Roller, who hit three shots from beyond the arc. "But today it was more within our offense."
Slovenian forward Erazem Lorbek seemed at a loss for words and still stunned simply stating: "They were killing us with their three point shots."
The 1993 European champions Germany return to the EuroBasket semi-finals for the first time since 2001, when they lost to Turkey in overtime and eventually finished fourth after losing to Spain.
"This victory is like winning the gold medal," said German wing player Marco Pesic.