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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Germany, Greece in quarterfinals of Olympics basketball qualifier

Reuters

ATHENS -- Dirk Nowitzki produced a flawless 35-point performance to help Germany to an 89-71 win over New Zealand in the Olympics qualifying tournament on Wednesday.

With host Greece also coming through 89-69 against Brazil, the two big guns of the European game successfully avoided a quarterfinal meeting that would have meant one of them missing out on Beijing.

The Germans will instead face Brazil while Greece take on the New Zealanders

On the other side of the draw, Canada and Croatia both had to come from behind to win their games and set up a last eight encounter with each other. The other matchup sees Slovenia pitted against Puerto Rico.

Dallas Mavericks forward Nowitzki was in tremendous form as he dominated Germany's win over a New Zealand side that played above themselves.

Nowitzki was ably assisted by the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman who notched 20 points.

Greece was made to work hard for its win but 18 points from Antonis Fotsis meant they had something to spare at the end. Beims Slpitter posted 20 for Brazil.

Croatia had to come back from a 17-point deficit to beat Puerto Rico.

Trailing 26-9 in the first quarter, Croatia chipped away at the lead and with Davor Kus and Marko Tomas scoring 15 points each they finished as 95-81 winners.

"When we got up by 17, we thought the game was over. That was a big mistake," said Puerto Rico's Larry Ayuso.

At halftime in their game against South Korea, the Canadians were trailing by 16 points and with just three minutes left on the clock they were still 11 points down.

But a 14-1 scoring spree saw them overturn the Koreans 79-77 and secure a shot at reaching Beijing.

Canada won despite playing with just 11 men after Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert was released from the team after Tuesday's defeat by Slovenia.

"Without going into too much detail, it's a situation that we decided to move forward with the players who have the passion and desire to play for Canada," said coach Leo Rautins.

Three of the 12 teams competing will qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, Iran, Lithuania, Russia, Spain and the United States have already qualified.