EUROBASKET 2015 2ND QR
|Maik Zirbes sunk a game-winning shot for Germany against Latvia|
The German crowd watched as the young crop of international players delivered the goods over the weekend and helped the national team win the title of the friendly Supercup tournament in Bamberg.
Dennis Schröder, Maik Zirbes, Elias Harris and Maximilian Kleber felt right at home in the role of co-protagonists alongside Robin Benzing and captain Heiko Schaffartzik, helping power Germany to victories over Latvia and Russia, which were enough to make up for a loss to Israel in between.
While Germany were in no way dominant over their strong opponents, they managed to achieve these results without Tibor Pleiss, a player who is poised to play a key role for them in the upcoming EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round.
The big man arrived in Bamberg shortly before the tournament and watched his team-mates from the sidelines at the weekend.
On the opening day, Zirbes scored the last of his team-high 15 points with just 16 seconds left on the clock, to gift Germany a dramatic 75-74 win over Latvia.
Zirbes added eight rebounds to round-up his display, Schröder had 12 points and four assists and Karsten Tadda chipped in with 11 points on four-for-four from the floor.
For Latvia, who had led by as many as 10 points in the first half but got only 19 points from their second unit while Germany's bench players contributed 40 points, Janis Strelnieks finished with a game-high 16 points and seven assists, Martins Meiers added 14 points and Kaspars Berzins collected 12.
In the other game on Friday, Russia started in dominant form to push ahead 46-31 by the half-time break, led by as many as 19 points and withstood a late attempt at a comeback by Israel to clinch an 82-75 win.
Valerii Likhodei paced Russia with 15 points, while Dmitry Sokolov picked up a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards.
Omri Casspi collected a game-high 20 points in defeat, while Yaniv Green had 11 points and six rebounds.
On Saturday, defence took a back seat and Israel showed the best version of their game as they led Germany 30-27 at the end of the first quarter.
The tournament hosts pushed ahead by the third buzzer, 69-68, but Israel replied with a 9-0 run to claim an 84-75 lead, their biggest in the game, and secured a 91-84 victory.
Casspi and Lior Eliyahu, with 17 points apiece and 12 rebounds between them, led the way for Israel and Gal Mekel added 12 points and three assists.
Veteran Heiko Schaffartzik had 17 points on four-for-eight shooting from the floor and Schröder added 11 points in Germany's losing effort.
In the other Saturday game, Russia once again started off well to claim an early 27-19 lead and, while Latvia managed to balance proceedings before half-time, the Russians replied with a fantastic defensive effort and a 10-0 run in the third quarter to extend the gap to 49-38.
Once again, Russia successfully defended their lead despite a drop in the fourth, and picked up a 73-64 win.
Sokolov had 15 points for the winners while Timofey Mozgov registered a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards and Nikita Kurbanov added 10 points.
|Lucca Staiger had 16 points against Russia in the tournament-deciding game|
For Latvia, Rolands Freimanis finished with 14 points and 20-year-old Rolands Smits picked up 10 points in the losing effort.
Russia went into the final day of action with a 2-0 record, but the generation next of Germany proved they were determined to please the home crowd in Bamberg by winning the Supercup.
The tournament hosts jumped in the driver's seat right away to secure a 42-30 cushion by half-time and extended the gap to 25 points early in the third.
From then on there was no way back for Russia and Germany celebrated an 84-75 win, behind 18 points from Benzing and 16 points from Lucca Staiger.
"Today [Sunday] we played much better defence than against Israel," Germany head coach Emir Mutapcic said afterwards.
"The starting five stepped on the court ready for the game and the maximum cohesion we showed today can be so important for our team.
"We played our systems mostly well, but then lost control a bit in the fourth quarter, we just risked too much.
"It is important that we go away from this tournament with a good feeling, we have succeeded."
Israel left Latvia in bottom place in the tournament after picking up a 94-86 win in the other game on Sunday.
Latvia went into the locker rooms with a 42-37 lead, but the Israelis outscored the Baltic team 34-19 in the third frame to turn the tables and maintained control until the final buzzer.
Casspi was excellent for the winners, collecting a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds that helped his team erase a game-high 25-point effort by Dairis Bertans.
The EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round tips off on Sunday, 10 August.