Dirk’s German Team Out Of European Championship
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) - After an off night by Dirk Nowitzki, Germany is out of the European Championship. And that means the NBA finals MVP will not be at next year’s Olympics.
Nowitzki’s poor shooting doomed his country to an 84-75 loss against Lithuania on Sunday. Germany missed out on a spot in the quarterfinals of the continental tournament and a chance to qualify for the London Games.
Germany needed to win by 11 points to advance, but never came close. Nowitzki was limited to 16 points on 4-for-17 shooting, and Lithuania made it to the knockout round.
“It’s my fault. I was not in condition to play a good tournament,” said Nowitzki, who led the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA title last season.
Lithuania was joined in the last eight by Serbia, which held on for a 68-67 victory over Turkey after Ersan Ilyasova missed the last shot of the game.
In Sunday’s other game, Pau Gasol’s Spain easily overpowered France 96-69, with Tony Parker and Joakim Noah not playing. Both teams had already advanced to the quarters.
The two finalists will clinch spots at the London Olympics, while the next four teams will play in an additional qualifying tournament.
Nowitzki was held scoreless until making a pair of free throws midway into the second quarter, and finished the first half with just seven points. Chris Kaman had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Germany and Robin Benzing shot perfectly from the field and the line to finish with 18 points. But it wasn’t enough.
Rimantas Kaukenas had 19 for Lithuania, Jonas Valanciunas scored nine of his 15 in the fourth quarter, and Sarunas Jasikevicius added 17 for the home side, which scored the last nine points of the game.
“We did an excellent job on Dirk Nowitzki, we wore him down,” Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura said. “Rebounds were important for us and coming up with steals.”
Spain, the defending champion, broke open the game against France with a 27-4 run in the third quarter to take first place in their second-round group.
While France coach Vincent Collet chose not to play Parker and Noah, Spain spread the minutes among all 12 players. Guard Juan Carlos Navarro hit all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 16 points, while Rudy Fernandez had 15 for Spain.
Collet dismissed suggestions that he did the tournament a disservice by resting two of his starters. Mickael Gelabale was also out with a previous knee injury.
“Noah got a hit in the calf and he wanted to play, but the doctor said no,” Collet said. “Tony has played more than 30 minutes in each of the previous games and he needed a rest.”
France stayed within one at halftime, but Spain then used its big third quarter to run away with the win and send France its first defeat of the tournament. Center Kevin Seraphin led France with 18 points.
“They stepped up their level of aggressiveness and pressure and we could not keep up,” Collet said.
Pau Gasol had 11 points in 18 minutes and brother Marc Gasol added nine in 21.
“We wanted to respect our opponent and other teams and there is nothing like a good game to keep up the momentum,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. “We know we start from zero in the quarterfinals but it’s good to go there in a good position.”
In the early game, Turkey wasted its chance after getting the last possession with four seconds remaining. After a timeout, Ilyasova’s jumper bounced off the rim and Dusko Savanovic grabbed the rebound to secure the win for Serbia.
Turkey had two shooters in each corner but couldn’t get the ball to either one, leaving Ilyasova to take the last shot. The Milwaukee Bucks forward struggled with his shooting all game, connecting on only 3 of 10 shots.
“It didn’t have to end like this, but we managed to win and that’s important,” said Savanovic, who also blocked Omer Onan’s layup attempt right before the final timeout.
Milos Teodosic led Serbia with 20 points but also had six turnovers, including a key one with less than a minute remaining. He then also missed a wild 3-point attempt, which led to Turkey’s last two possessions and Savanovic’s two big defensive plays.
“We knew it would be tough and close and we have to put it behind us quickly,” Teodosic said.
Serbia’s victory was a measure of revenge for a loss to Turkey at last year’s world championship semifinals in Turkey. Turkey went on to lose the final to the United States.
Serbia was the silver medalist at the Europeans two years ago behind Spain.
“Not reaching the quarterfinals would have been a fiasco,” said Savanovic, who finished with 14 points.
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