Saturday, July 19, 2008

Croatia tops Dirk, Germany, 76-70, to earn a trip to Beijing

The first game of the evening just ended with Croatia beating Germany by six.  

Croatia went up early and held the lead into the second quarter.  But Dirk took over, scoring 16 of Germany's first 24 points of the game.

At the half, Nowitzki had 19 of the team's 31 points as Croatia led by five at the break.  It's interesting to see Germany running 3-4 of the plays he runs with the Mavs, including a downscreen and cross-screen.

Germany tried to go to Chris Kaman to start third quarter.  CK got five of his team's first seven half-court possessions to begin the half. 

Heading into the fourth, Germany was up by two after Croatia got a technical (Planinic).  Bad time for a tech -- close score in an important game.

Planinic, a former NBA player for the Nets, handled the point for Croatia.  He played with more confidence tonight than he does in the NBA.  His size (6'6") is a key on his drives to the basket.

Kaman sat on the bench for important stretches of the game's final period.  The coaching here is different than in the States and I had trouble figuring out the rotations, both in this game and other FIBA games I've seen this week.

Davor Kus, who plays professionally in Spain, hit some huge 3 balls for Croatia.

I was surprised that Croatia didn't press at all during the game.  It makes me wonder if Croatia even scouted Germany the night before when they played Brazil.  The Brazilians caused Germany all kinds of problems in the second half with the press.

Two games within a 24-hour span in the same building and you don't pick up on how poor Germany's press break is?  That's a lack of scouting prep by Croatia coach Jasmin Repesa and his staff, but give Croatia credit -- they're heading to Beijing.

It looked to me like Croatia had more talent overall than Germany.  Other than Dirk and Kaman, the German team had the talent equivalent to a competitive NCAA D-I team.

Kaman (12) and Dirk (30) had the majority of Germany's points.

Germany committed late-game fouls that cost them the game.  

Both teams'  bench players were really into the game.