Germany's best chance to clinch a spot in the 2005 EuroBasket final will be if Dirk Nowitzki's supporting cast can step up again. While Spain need another excellent performance from Juan Carlos Navarro to make their third final in the last four tournmants.
"As expected, Dirk got his. But we got a great performance from the rest of the guys against Slovenia," German coach Dirk Bauermann said. "Now we need another big game from them for us to beat Spain."
Nowitzki scored "just" 22 points in Germany's quarter-final victory over Slovenia. But point guards Pascal Roller and Mithat Demirel each tallied 15 points while shooting guard Demond Greene added 10 for Dirk Bauermann's team.
|Germany won their only EuroBasket medal in 1993|
"We're in the World Championships now. But everything's possible," Nowitzki said. "If you're in the semifinals, your goal has to be a medal."
Germany have only collected one EuroBasket medal in their history - the 1993 title with legendary coach Svetislav Pesic at the helm.
Germany - the 2002 World Championship bronze medalists - reached the semi-finals of the 2001 EuroBasket, only to lose to Turkey in overtime. The Nowitzki-led Germany team then lost to Spain in the game for third place to finish fourth - their only other top four showing.
Fans in Istanbul that evening in 2001 witnessed one of the best battles in EuroBasket history - as Nowitzki gathered 43 points and 15 rebounds while Spanish center Pau Gasol had 31 points and 10 boards.
Gasol will be at Belgrade Arena on Saturday - but only as a commentator for Spanish television.
"Germany are an excellent team with one very great superstar," Gasol said.
"But you cannot forget about the other players who are less known because they are also very dangerous."
Spain have never won a EuroBasket championship despite five times making the final. In order to make it to Sunday's gold medal match, Spain will have to recover from their 101-85 overtime victory against Croatia. Mario Pesquera's team went to overtime against Latvia in the group stage only to lose to Israel the next day.
“We need to recover quickly from this overtime game," the coach said. "The last time we had an extra-time game against Latvia we came out tired against Israel. So that is obviously of concern to us:"
He also said the strong point guard play of Roller and Demirel is a concern.
"We will need to do our best to slow them down and defend them well behind the three point line where they were dangerous against Slovenia,” Pesquera added.
Another key for Spain will be to force Germany's into an up-tempo contest - something they haven't had so far, scoring just 72 points per game compared to Spain's 95.
“We need to impose our fast pace style of play on Germany. We can’t let them slow it down," Spanish point guard Jose Calderon said.
And key to Spain's running game is Navarro, the tournament's leading scorer with 26.8 points a game.
As Navarro goes, so go Spain. The small quick shooting ace has averaged almost 33 points in Spain's three victories. In Spain's loss to Israel he scored just nine points on 2-10 shooting.
The winner will play either Greece or France in Sunday's gold medal game.