48 hours after experiencing an annoying and embarrassing 76-52 loss in Strasburg to France where Germany suffered an inacceptable 31-0 run from France where they were unable to score for 13 minutes, both teams were back at it in Cologne Germany for the last test before the begin of Euro 2015 next weekend. Team Germany lost consecutive games against Croatia two weeks ago while last weekend Germany won the Super Cup in Hamburg beating teams Latvia, Poland and Turkey and after being crushed in Strasburg 48 hours ago, team Germany seem to be in no mans land not knowing exactly where the road to consistent success is as they are as up and down as the weight of American actress Delta Burke has been over the last years. It was the battle of Germany with its three NBA players with Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Schroeder and Tibor Pleiss against France and its six NBA players with Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert and Joffrey Lauvergne and a sold out house the Lanxess arena as German fans were hoping for revenge and possibly a victory dance from Dirk Nowitzki similar to what he did 17 hours earlier as he won the goal shooting contest on a German sports program, but France had the better nerves in crunch time as they closed out the game with a 7-2 run sparked by five points from ex San Antonio Spur Nando De Colo. Germany had had the number of France throughout the game holding the lead even if it wasn´t easy at times, but France got stronger in the second half and in the fourth quarter had that Allez Lez Bleus attitude and heart and showed again why they belong to the favorites to win the 2015 European championships as their mental toughness was there even if Tony Parker wasn´t his usual work horse self. “It was really cool to see Cologne stand behind their national team in the Lanxess arena. It was an intense environment for a preparation game and both teams played to win. I think the German team was most successful when they were able to establish themselves on offense. Germany has the talent to play against the best, they just need play to their strengths in order to come out on top. If they can continue to get stops on defense and assert their style of play, I think they can contend for the Eurobasket championship”, stressed RheinStars forward Alex Foster.
Germany started the game with their usual starting lineup of the last games with the NBA trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Schroeder and Tibor Pleiss, new shooting star Paul Zipser and ex Bamberg guard Anton Gavel while France started with four NBA players with Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic and Nando De Colo of CSKA Moscow. Despite having played 44 hours earlier in Strasburg and both teams knowing the scouting report, both teams came out lackadaisical and seemed somewhat effected by the high temperatures of the late summer day in Cologne Germany. On the first play fans saw Rudy Gobert swat away a Dennis Schroeder shot on the penetration. Of course getting into the lane is as simple for Schroeder as it is for a basketball fan with bad eye sight to mix up an Antoine Diot with Bastian Doreth concerning the face hair, but then again the ex Braunschweig player can´t underestimate the wing span of Gobert. Germany got the quick 3-0 lead as ex Heidelberg forward Paul Zipser made an off balance shot with one second on the shot clock and dropped the free throw. France then finished up their first good play with superb ball movement and patience as ex Phoenix Suns forward Boris Diaw made a lay in and Parker tied the score at 3-3 with a free throw. Germany then regained the lead 5-3 as Dennis Schroeder hit a pull up jumper on the transition. However then it was ex Valencia shooting guard De Colo that displayed his shooting talent hitting a trey for the 7-5 France advantage. The Lanxess arena then had its first game time splurge of roaring sound after Nowitzki tied up the game with his routine step back jumper which he will probably still make when he is 70, but then without a man against him. Germany then regained the lead 12-9 as Tibor Pleiss who was back home again in Cologne where he started his career made a hook shot off the extra pass from Nowitzki and then it was Paul Zipser taking something from the game of Nowitzki making a pretty step back over Gobert who was a few steps to late. German head coach Chris Fleming was doing a splendid job working his bench as Fraport Skyliner center Johannes Voigtmann once again showed his effectiveness in few minutes scoring in bunches as he made a step back and then found the open daylight and made a massive two handed dunk as ex Seattle Supersonic Mickael Gelabale was a step too late. After one quarter Germany had the nice 16-10 lead.
The second quarter was the strongest quarter of Germany as they were able to build their biggest lead of the game of 10 points, but France was never totally out of the game as they continued to scrap back and trailed only 38-32 after 20 minutes. France confronted the annoying 9-1 run of Germany to end the first quarter as Denver Nugget Joffrey Lauvergne made a hard dunk and connected on the free throw as France trailed only by 16-13. However Germany was able to thwrat the France zone defense as two time NCAA champion Nils Giffey hit a three pointer getting the quick kick out pass from Bamberg guard Karsten Tadda as Germany led 18-13. However back up point guard Antoine Diot who reached the France Pro A final the last two years with Strasburg and will play in Valencia this season made a quick steal at center court catching Heiko Schaffartzik off guard bringing France closer to 18-15. Germany then went on a 13-6 run to get their biggest lead of the game at 31-21 as it was the NBA stars Nowitzki and Schroeder that took care of most of the damage. Schroeder drew two fouls making four free throws with his typical clever penetration that can mostly only be stopped by fouling him and then connected on a three pointer. Nowitzki made two step back jumpers which is his bread and butter in his shot repitore. Paul Zipser rounded out the scoring with an amazing spin move. Zipser has had the big breakthrough this summer with the national team and deserved his starting position as he continues to shine on the court. “He had a long injury and it wasn´t easy cracking the FC Munich roster. However he came back top fit this summer to the national team and everyone sees the talent he has and it is all deserved”, stressed ex Phoenix Hagen center Bernd Kruel. France was playing without Tony Parker who was being rested in the second quarter and they got support from Gelabale with a jumper and ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket small forward Charles Kahudi nailed a three pointer. France then retaliated with a stunning 8-2 run to cut the Germany lead to 33-29. In the run it was the hot and timely shooting of Diot that got France closer as he buried two three pointers. Alexis Ajinca replacement Jaiteh made a tip inin the run as well. Schroeder and Nowitzki scored to close out the first half for Germany while Diot made his third three pointer of the game as Germany still led 38-32 at halftime. “Germany has a good mix of players and played a good first half. It isn´t always easy not to give the ball to Dirk Nowitzki”, stressed RheinStars center Bernd Kruel.
In the third quarter France continued to stay on the heels of Germany, but still were unable to get the lead back. Ex Le Mans forward Nicolas Batum got France on the board first with an ally op dunk as France trailed 38-34. Anton Gavel then hit a runner and it was Lauvergne again using his physicality to score inside and get the and one free throw as France trailed only 40-37. The game continued to be very close and exciting as Tibor Pleiss hit a mini hook shot, but De Colo led a mini France 4-0 run with a jumper as Germany led only 42-40. Pleiss and Batum then traded buckets, but Germany still led 44-43. Voigtmann then made two free throws and one could see the twinkle of enjoyment in the eyes of Bernd Kruel watching the Frankfurt center. “He is a good player. I have enjoyed watching him the last years. He is a modern center that has a good eye and is very clever. I think that he will continue to develop well and have a good future in the national team”, stressed ex Telekom Baskets Bonn center Bernd Kruel. Schroeder then made a lay for the 48-44 advantage. However with 1,5 seconds to play France had one last opportunity and Chales Kahudi made an incredible shot from his own end ¾ from the rim cutting the Germany lead to 48-47 after three quarters. “That shot showed that anything is possible. That was a good example for young players to see that it isn´t over until you take that last shot”, added Bernd Kruel. “France played a lot better in the third quarter. It was tough for Germany that Nowitzki had three fouls. Germany is strongest when Nowitzki is on the court and play off him. Schroeder plays well, but there is no clear leader on the team when Nowitzki is out”, stressed ex Emory forward Alex Foster.
In the fourth quarter there were seven lead changes, but that last lead change was most vital and key because it paved the road to victory for France. It started going back and forth right from the start of the fourth quarter as Diot made a jumper giving France the lead back after a long wait 49-48. Voigtmann then displayed his versatility and no hesitation shooting when he is open making a jumper from the wing as Germany snatched the lead back 50-49. Then it was Gelabale dropping a three pointer as France grabbed the lead back 52-50. Gorbat then ended a mini 4-0 run of France with a lay in as France led 54-50. “France had the momentum at this point. One shot can really turn the tide as that buzzer beater of Kahudi seemed to do. France knew they had the momentum and took advantage of it”, expressed Alex Foster. However Germany stayed tough mentally and weren´t scared away by the sudden France momentum and returned going on a 5-0 run to win the lead back at 55-54 as Heiko Schaffartzik nailed one of his typical from the parking lot jumpers as one quick cross over and it´s bombs away and Schroeder hit a rare floater that he didn´t use much in the game. The game continued to have surprises as after Diot made a lay in to give France the 56-55 lead it was extra bench power as ex Frankfurt Skyliner Alex King nailed a three pointer and Schaffartzik connected on another three pointer as now it seemed as once again the game tide was turning in favor of Germany as they led 61-56 with four minutes to play. However France somehow stood up again and whipped a 5-0 run to dead lock the game at 61-61 as Gelabale nailed another three pointer and Diaw hit a turn around jumper. However with three minutes to go and everyone in the arena expecting heroics from Dirk Nowitzki, it was actually France that pulled away going on a 7-2 run to close out the game and win. De Colo was razor sharp in the crunch time as he made a jumper and connected on free throws while France knew the ball was coming to Nowitzki and shut him down. “France was able to keep Dirk in check during the fourth quarter and came out on top. After France bricked 4 straight free throws, Germany went to Dirk for the win, but Diaw played solid defense and forced him into a tough shot. There’s nobody better than Dirk in that situation, but the ball took a bounce in France’s favor. After that, France sealed the win by finally knocking down some free throws”, stressed Portland, Oregon native Alex Foster. France was led by Nando De Colo with 14 points. Antoine Diot took over the load from NBA superstar Tony Parker hitting big shots finishing with 13 points and seven assists while Mickale Gelabale rounded out the scoring with 12 points. Germany was led by Dennis Schroeder with 16 points while Dirk Nowitzki added 10 points and seven rebounds. France shot 43% from the field while Germany shot 39%. France shot 42% from outside and Germany 26%. Both teams had 38 rebounds a piece while Germany had nine and France 11. Both teams have ended their game preparation for Euro 2015 and will head to Berlin on Wednesday as they will see action this upcoming weekend as the Euro 2015 commences.