Commentary

Dirk, Germany can't slow Spain

Nowitzki's goal of ending his international career at the Olympics may be over

Originally Published: September 7, 2011
By Mark Woods | Special to ESPN.com

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Dirk Nowitzki sounded like a man resigned to his fate, acknowledging that his dream of finishing his international career at an Olympic Games was all but over.

"The good thing for me is that I was able to reach the Olympics in Beijing," said the Dallas Mavericks forward. "But we have eight or nine young guys who haven't been there. I would have loved to have helped them out."

Despite 19 points from Nowitzki, Germany was edged 77-68 by Spain on Wednesday in the opening game of the second round of EuroBasket.

The result leaves his side with only a slim mathematical shot of making it through to the quarterfinals, where places at London 2012, as well as the European Championship, will be determined.

Now Germany is required to record victories over Turkey and Lithuania in the next two games and then to hope other countries fall short -- not what the MVP of last season's NBA Finals was hoping for when he agreed to resume his national team career for one last Olympic shot.

"We have to win two games," Nowitzki said. "We go on to the next one. It's do or die. We have to play the Turkey game as if it's our last. We have to fight. You never know what could happen."

The Germans meet Turkey on Friday in Vilnius but they had an opportunity to defeat Spain before falling away in the closing minutes.

Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman cut the lead to 68-65 with two free throws with less than three minutes remaining but a closing 9-3 run by Spain was enough.

"It was frustrating," Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said. "There were a number of times in the games where we could have gotten the lead and Spain would have been under more pressure to score themselves. But that never happened and then we had some crucial turnovers as well."

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol had a game-high 24 points for Spain, which can advance into the quarterfinals with a win Friday over Serbia.

Mark Woods is a freelance writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland, whose work appears regularly in British publications.