By David Hein
Turning point: Heiko Schaffartzik nailed a three-pointer with 1:45 to play and Robin Benzing iced the game with a trey with 48 seconds left as Germany watched Russia cut a 19-point deficit to one point.
Hero: Jagla came up big at both ends of the floor as well from long range.
Stats: Russia made just 28 of 49 free throws while Germany were 21 of 25.
Jan Jagla collected 19 points and 11 rebounds and 20-year-old Robin Benzing nailed a three-pointer with 48 seconds left as Germany knocked off defending champions Russia 76-73 for their first victory in the EuroBasket 2009 Qualifying Round Group B.
Germany led from start to finish though they nearly surrendered a 19-point lead with Russia pulling to within one
point in Gdansk. But Heiko Schaffartzik hit a big three-pointer in the final two minutes as well on his way to 13 points.
|Heiko Schaffartzik had 13 points, including a big three-pointer down the stretch.|
"Of course it's tough being on the bench, especially in a game like that. But we have a great bunch of guys. Our biggest strength this summer is that we've been playing well collectively," said Jagla, who fouled out of the game with two minutes left and Germany clinging to a 68-65 lead.
"I mean for a 20-year-old to step up and hit that shot ... unbelievable."
Benzing also impressed German coach Dirk Bauermann, who had the faith to keep him in the starting lineup despite going scoreless in 16 minutes in the opener.
"Why bring him if you're not going to play him ... But to hit that shot, that's special," said Bauermann, whose team improved to 1-1.
Russia dropped to 1-1 as his team made just 28 of 49 (57 percent) free throws and watched Germany hit 21 of 25 (84 percent).
"I don't know what to say about the free throws. Sometimes it's contagious. If you see one guy miss, others miss as well," said Russian coach David Blatt, who suffered through Sergey Bykov making just 3 of 11 for the game.
Kelly McCarty and Anton Ponkrashov each scored 12 points for Russia while Bykov had 11 points and Sergy Monya added 10 points in a losing effort.
"We knew that the German team was very strong on offense and defense. In the first half we were not so prepared that they would be so tough on defense," said Vitalii Fridzon.
Patrick Femerling got Germany off to a great start with a fine pass, a reserve layup and a blocked shot for a 6-0 lead. Fridzon finally got Russia on the board with a three-pointer after nearly three minutes.
Monya nailed a three-ball of his own to pull Russia within two points. But Germany went on a 12-0 run to close the first quarter with Schaffartzik scoring 10 points for a 26-12 lead.
Jagla and Femerling were too much to handle in the post as Germany were able to increase their cushion throughout the second quarter, pushing it to 19 points on Hamann's lay-up and free throw to make it 44-25.
Russia would pull back to within 45-31 at intermission.
The Germans could not execute on offensive early in the third quarter and Bykov scored six straight points to bring the gap to 45-37.
But Jagla answered with a three-pointer and two more baskets inside in addition to drawing the fifth foul on Russia's only true center Timofey Mozgov with 4:39 left in the period.
Russia would trim the margin down to six points on Aleksey Zozulin's three-pointer to make it 52-46. Sven Schultze however drained a long ball of his own and then two more foul shots as the Germans led 60-50 going into the final 10 minutes.
Jagla gave Germany a 64-50 lead but McCarty and Monya nailed three-pointers and Nikita Kurbanov hit a long jumper to complete a 10-0 run over nearly four minutes. Kurbanov nailed a three-ball before McCarty's two foul shots had Russia within 66-65 with three minutes left.
Schaffartzik gave Germany a four-point gap - 71-67 - and Bauermann's men benefitted from Russia making just six of 10 free throws in the final three minutes and Benzing's triple with 48 seconds iced the game.