It's All On The Line

By David Hein
It's win or go home for Germany and Croatia who face off in the final Qualifying Round Group E game with a spot in the EuroBasket 2009 Quarter-Finals for the taking.

Either Croatia will live up their expectations by reaching the final eight or Germany will continue their magical EuroBasket 2009 run by booking their trip to Katowice.

Both teams are coming into the game after losses - but with different tastes left in their mouth.

Croatia knew their game against France was not the most meaningful game as they would have to beat Germany regardless to advance.

Germany, however, played their first poor contest in the competition just two days after nearly toppling Greece.

German coach Dirk Bauermann will have to get his team back in the correct frame of mind as the young, inexperienced group attempts to keep its fine ride going.

Croatia meanwhile once again showed their inconsistency against France, playing a fantastic first half before slipping back into their chronic lackluster play after the intermission.

Croatia must beat Germany if they hope to still have a chance to prove all the pundits correct who consider them a title contender.

Head-to-head: Germany lead the all-time series 5-4, including wins in the last five games. The most recent meeting came at EuroBasket 2007 in the fifth-place game.

Last time out: Germany lost to F.Y.R. of Macedonia 86-75 while Croatia were beaten by France 87-79.

Key Match-up: Zoran Planinic vs. Demond Greene. Planinic was kept pretty much under wraps in Croatia's loss against France with just three points on 1 of 5 shooting both from the field and the foul stripe as well as five turnovers after having committed just five total turnovers in the previous four games. Germany would be given a big boost if Greene can give them some tough defense against Planinic.

X-Factor: Germany power forward Jan Jagla.  Jagla looked fantastic in Germany's games versus Russia and Latvia, averaging 16 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks. In the two games since then, he has totaled just eight points, 10 rebounds as well as zero assists, steals or blocks. With Croatia having a fine group of big men, Jagla had best show up if Germany want to win.

Key Stat: 17. Germany turned the ball over 17 times against F.Y.R.O.M., which was 4.5 more than their average of 12.5 coming into the game. Dirk Bauermann's team is going to have to take care of the ball better to advance.

Sounding Off: "We're disappointed but we don't have a lot of time to be disappointed. This is a tournament. We have one more shot and we want to use it. We just need to do it all against Croatia. We can only influence our own fate against Croatia. We have to play hard against Croatia and see what's going to happen." -German center Patrick Femerling


15.09.2009 - By David Hein
13.09.2009 - By Yarone Arbel
11.09.2009 - By Yarone Arbel

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