By Kevin Anselmo
Dirk Nowitzki came up with another huge game and hit the game-winning shot with 3.9 seconds to go as Germany upset Spain 74-73 in Belgrade to advance to their first gold medal game at the EuroBasket since 1993.
After Juan Carlos Navarro´s floater in the lane gave Spain a 73-72 advantage with 14 seconds to go, the Dallas Mavericks superstar who has carried the German squad on his shoulders for all of the tournament, hit a baseline jumper over the outstrecthed arm of Jorge Garbajosa to put Germany back in front.
“It was indescribable,” Nowitzki said of the final shot. “After I looked at Navarro´s shot go in I thought to myself that I wanted to start my offensive move with six seconds left so that way we could get an offensive rebound. Garbajosa kind of pushed me towards the baseline so I just went with it.”
“Dirk hit a tough shot,” German head coach Dirk Bauermann said. “He bailed us out just like he did against Russia. That is why he is a super star and the leader of this team. But that doesn't take away from the team effort.”
|Juan Carlos Navarro nearly won the game for Spain|
Spain called timeout and discussed their strategy.
They inbounded the ball to Jose Manuel Calderon and he drove past mid-court to just a few feet behind the arc and had a clean look at a three-pointer, but his shot clanked off the rim, putting Nowitzki and Co into a gold medal clash against Greece, who earlier stunned France.
As the buzzer sounded, Nowitzki circled the court with his right fist in the air and Germany´s squad celebrated a thrilling victory. They will look to continue their Cinderella story on Sunday after Spain take on France in the bronze medal contest.
Nowitzki finished with a game-high 27 points, 11 of those coming in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
He made five of 10 three-pointers, with Germany connecting on 13 of 33 as a team. Spain struggled, shooting two-of-19 from behind the arc.
"If we had a shot a higher percentage from three-point range, then perhaps the outcome would have been different," said Pesquera.
Navarro, one night after finishing with a tournament-best 36 points, finished with 27 points and Fran Vazquez added 15.
Spain lost, despite outrebounding Germany 39-22.
Trailing by three to start the fourth quarter, Germany opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. Nowitzki scored five of those points with a tough fade away and a three-pointer.
“We had two bad stretches in the game,” said Pesquera.
After Spain broke the run, Nowitzki hit two more jumpers to give Germany their largest lead of 68-59 with 5:16 to go.
Spain were ice cold in the fourth quarter, scoring just two points through the first six minutes. However just when it appeared Germany had taken command, Spain mounted a late run.
Navarro hit two free throws with 2:06 to go, cutting Germany´s lead to five at 70-65.
After Denis Wucherer sank a 10-foot jump shot, Navarro answered with a lay-up and then added two free throws with 1:19 remaining after Pascal Roller´s turnover.
Germany again coughed the ball up with Mithat Demirel the guilty party, and Navarro hit a short jump shot to make it 72-71 with 48 seconds.
“We fought as a team, but we also made it difficult for ourselves,” Nowitzki said.
After Roller threw up a prayer with the shot clock running down and missed, Navarro once again came to the fore for his team, scoring the floater for the one-point lead.
Superman, aka Dirk Nowitzki, then struck with the dagger for the final margin, with Spain missing their last opportunity.
One night after a thrilling overtime victory over Croatia, Spain opened with a strong first quarter and jumped out to a 23-16 lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, Spain scored only 12 points but nevertheless led 35-34 as the half came to an end.
Germany´s poor shooting continued during the first five and half minutes of the third quarter. Nowitzki took just one shot and Germany scored five points and found themselves trailing 48-39.
Then Nowitzki connected on a three to end the drought and start Germany´s own 13-2 spurt to give the Germans a 52-50 lead – their first since the opening minutes of the game.
Spain closed the third quarter by going on a 7-2 run and were on top 57-54 going into the fourth.