Parker And France Take On Dirk-less Germany

07.09.2009

By David Hein

This showdown of neighbors in Group B matches up two teams who are real question marks coming into the tournament.

On the one hand there is rebuilding Germany as a team entering the tournament with and inexperienced roster and low expectations.

Then there is a France side which needed to go through the Additional Qualifying Round but still has high expectations - even serious title aspirations.


Gdansk will see the dawn of a new era for Germany - 2002 Worlds bronze medalists and 2005 EuroBasket runners up - with five players off the 2008 Olympic team not showing up on the Baltic Sea.

The biggest missing face is Germany superstar Dirk Nowitzki. But German coach Dirk Bauermann will have a fresh, motivated group of youngsters ready to show they are ready for the big time.

France meanwhile enter EuroBasket 2009 as the winners of the Additional Qualifying Round. Vincent Collet's team suffered defeats to Finland and Belgium on their way to Poland and drive supporters crazy with their inconsistent performances.

French star playmaker Tony Parker will be in charge of keeping Les Bleus in line. But he and Collet have plenty of weapons to choose from with the likes of Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw, Florent Pietrus and Nicolas Batum.

If France can solve the German defense, this could turn into a blowout while Germany hope to keep the low and stay in the game late.

Head to Head: France lead the all-time series against Germany with 7 wins and 4 losses. The last showdown came at the 2007 EuroBasket in Spain where France eased past Germany 78-66 in the Qualifying Round Group F.

Key match-up: Steffen Hamann vs. Tony Parker. Can Germany's playmaking and defensive leader slow down the NBA superstar Parker? That is probably the biggest key for Germany if the Bauermann's men hope to have a chance against France.

X-Factor: Ronny Turiaf.  The French big man took off in the AQR, averaging 9.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. In the two-leg qualifying final against Belgium, the Golden State Warrior center averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in pushing the French to Poland.

Key stat: Five.  After Germany superstar Dirk Nowitzki decided not to play in Poland, German coach Dirk Bauermann made good on his talk to bring young players into the senior team with five players born in 1988 or later.

Sounding off: "We know the German team - despite their youth - will be organized, as all German teams are. Discipline will be one of their big strengths. So we have to fight against this. We must try to cut passing lanes, to try to put them out of their position because we also know they are very tall. And if we let them play their game it could be very difficult for us." -Vincent Collet (France Coach) 


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