Germany and France advanced to the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championship on Sunday, but it wasn't easy.
Dirk Nowitzki made a key defensive play at the buzzer as Germany edged Nigeria 78-77, while France was rescued by clutch free-throw shooting
and held off Angola, 68-62.
Germany 78, Nigeria 77
SAITAMA, Japan -- Nowitzki, who scored 23 points, gave Germany a 78-71 lead on a dunk with 2½ minutes left in the game.
But his most important contribution came on defense.
Nigeria pulled to within one on free throws by Chamberlain
Oguchi and Tunji Awojobi and had a chance to take the lead with
seconds remaining. Ime Udoka drove for the basket but Nowitzki
tipped his shot and grabbed the rebound at the final buzzer.
"We led the whole game and we looked a little bit shaky at the
end," Germany's coach Dirk Bauermann said. "The play at the end
could have gone either way honestly. We switched on the pick and
roll and Dirk did a good job of making it a tough shot for Udoka."
Udoka's teammates thought a foul should have been called on the
play but there was no whistle.
"We had the last shot," Udoka said. "I had a good look and
didn't finish it so I'm very disappointed. We should be in the
Germany will face the United States in the quarterfinals.
Ademola Okulaja scored nine straight points in the fourth
quarter for Germany. He hit a 3-pointer two minutes in and was
fouled on a layup just over a minute later.
Okulaja, who played for North Carolina from 1995-99, hit a
3-pointer with 5:36 remaining to make it 73-64.
"Okulaja played a great game," Bauermann said. "We need him
to be our second scorer and he's finding his rhythm and is showing
what he is capable of doing."
Germany opened the third quarter with a layup by Steffen Hamann
and a basket by Nowitzki to take a 52-44 lead but Nigeria coach Sam
Vincent called a timeout and his team kept it close.
Gabe Muoneke hit a jumper with 1:28 left in the third period to
tie the game 58-58. Nowitzki made four free throws to give Germany
a four-point lead after three periods.
France 68, Angola 62
SAITAMA, Japan -- Aymeric Jeanneau scored 16 points,
including six free throws in the final 36 seconds, as France held
off Angola to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in 33 years.
Jeanneau, who missed France's last game of pool competition with
a right thigh injury, stepped in as the starting point guard when
Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs broke his finger in an
exhibition game just before the tournament began.
France (4-2), which finished fifth in 1963, will
play the winner of the Greece-China game in the quarterfinals on
Wednesday. Angola (3-3) was trying for its first quarterfinal berth after
an 11th-place showing in 2002 -- its best finish.
Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns and Mickael Gelabale each had 14
points for France, which did not have a field goal over the game's
final 4½ minutes. France's eight free throws in the final minute
were its only points in that span as Angola trimmed an 11-point
deficit to as few as three, 60-57 with 38 seconds to play.
Carlos Almeida had 13 points for Angola, which trailed 60-49
with 4:31 to play. Angola shot 37 percent (24-for-65) for the game.
Greece 95, China 64
Theodoros Papaloukas had 19 points for Greece, which committed
just three turnovers while forcing China (2-4) into 24. Greece
overcame a terrible first quarter with an impressive third period
Greece outscored China 26-6 in the third quarter to take a 67-42
lead. That 10-minute performance was a far cry from the opening
period when Greece missed 16 of its first 19 shots in falling
Yao Ming, the 7-foot-5 center who plays for the Houston Rockets,
had 10 points and eight rebounds for China. Yao, who entered the
game as the tournament's leading scorer with a 28.4 average, was
3-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. He
also grabbed eight rebounds.
China had six points and nine turnovers in the third quarter.
Greece closed the period with a 21-2 run.