While this writer has left Lithuania (the “day job” calls…), BallinEurope can still provide coverage of EuroBasket 2011, thanks to our old friend Y. He’ll also be tweeting through the games as well, so follow our Twitter account at BiE_basketball as well!
It’s the first day of second stage in Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania, and the round’s opening game featuring Germany versus Spain was a crucial match for both teams, as four teams in Group E, including Spain, entered the phase tied at 1-1, while Germans started in last place at 0-2.
Fears that Pau Gasol might not be able to play in this game due to an ankle injury did not materialize, as he joined the Spanish stars in the starting five.
Germany started off with great defense, and the Spaniards couldn’t slice through the tough D easily: Team Spain couldn’t hit anything, only netting eight points in eight minutes as the Germans took a four-point lead.
The Spaniards got ahead with a late free throw to finish the quarter, starting to take care of business with a 10-2 run in the second, but Germany bounced back and tied the game at 29-29. This shouldn’t have even been close at this stage … was Spain still playing its fourth quarter against Turkey? The sleepy favourites were up 36-33 at halftime.
The Gasols started the third with a strong touch, scoring 10 of 12 of Spain’s first points to create an eight-point edge, but the Germans stayed close to hold Spain to a one-point lead going into the fourth.
Dirk Nowitzki brought a one-point lead with a fadeaway jumpshot against Serge Ibaka to start the final 10 minutes. Slowly but surely, the Spaniards managed to get a 68-63 lead with three minutes to go, and the defending champions finalized the game with a little run for a 77-68 win and a second point in the group.
The winners’ Ricky Rubio said afterward that Germany gave them a hard game: “They played aggressively. We couldn’t run, which we like to do.” Sergio Scariolo of Spain meanwhile praised the German team for never giving up and playing his team a physical and a tough match.