Spain March On To Semis

13.09.2007

By David Hein

Two years ago, Jose Manuel Calderon missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as Spain lost to Germany in the 2005 EuroBasket semi-finals.

On Thursday the star point guard made sure it wouldn't come down to the final shot, scoring 17 points in spear-heading the world champions' 83-55 drubbing of Germany.

Jose Calderon (ESP)
Jose Calderon led the way for Spain with 17 points.
Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro both added 12 points for the superb Spain attack, shooting 57% and the Spanish defense held Dirk Nowitzki to 11 points and the German offense to 33% shooting in their quarter-final showdown in Madrid's Palacio de Deportes.

"We are where we wanted to be, which is the semi-finals. We have the crowd behind us, we are playing as one and we have to take advantage of this," said Calderon.

"We never looked at the score today. All we wanted was to put pressure on Germany and take advantage of their mistakes. Our style is to play with the same intensity for 40 minutes. We have played really well on defense, helping each other out and we have been successful in limiting Dirk Nowitzki."

With the victory, Spain exacted a bit of revenge following Germany's 74-73 victory over Spain in 2005 in Serbia, where Nowitzki buried a baseline jumper over the out-stretched arm of Jorge Garbajosa to pull ahead with three seconds left before Calderon missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Spain also had beaten Germany twice in the preparations for this tournament - both times in Spain and both times by 16 points.

“This was a good game to watch as a coach. It was enjoyable to see how the players put on great performances," Spain coach Pepu Hernandez said.

“One strong point of our team is that we’re not predictable. We have various combinations that maybe the opponents don’t think we will use. And also we’re able to make defense fun for our players. They enjoy playing defense which is not always easy.”

"It was tough for us. Twenty-four hours ago we played our most crucial game of the tournament against Italy. So it's hard to play a day later in another big game, espeically against the hosts," said German coach Dirk Bauermann.

Hernandez's team will next face in Saturday's semi-finals the winner of Friday's last quarter-final - either defending champions Greece or Slovenia.

Nowitzki buried a three-pointer to open the scoring, but with 8:33 left in the first quarter and Germany ahead 3-2, technical difficulties postponed the game for nearly 15 minutes and the shot clock was unable to be used the rest of the first half.

When the game got back under way, Germany pulled ahead 9-8, but Garbajosa and Fernandez drained back-to-back three-pointers to push the hosts up 16-9.

Johannes Herber knocked down a trey of his own at the buzzer to bring Germany to within 18-14 after one period.

Bauermann's team refused to go away and Nowitzki nailed a three-pointer and Mithat Demirel evened the game at 20-20.

Navarro, however, answered with back-to-back three-pointers and Calderon scored nine of Spain's final 14 points in the half as they went on a 9-0 run to lead 40-27 at the break.

Spain already led 52-36 midway through the third period but used a 12-2 spurt to blow the game open for good with a 64-38 cushion.

Germany trailed 66-43 after three periods and saw Spain score the first 14 points of the fourth period - 80-43 - and never closed to within 28 points the rest of the way.

Germany take on the loser of that Greece-Slovenia match in the 5th-8th place classification games - with seventh place meaning a spot in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.


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