ATHENS -- Dirk Nowitzki produced a
flawless 35-point performance to help Germany to an 89-71 win
over New Zealand in the Olympics qualifying tournament on
With host Greece also coming through 89-69 against Brazil,
the two big guns of the European game successfully avoided a
quarterfinal meeting that would have meant one of them missing
out on Beijing.
The Germans will instead face Brazil while Greece take on
the New Zealanders
On the other side of the draw, Canada and Croatia both had to
come from behind to win their games and set up a last eight
encounter with each other. The other matchup sees Slovenia
pitted against Puerto Rico.
Dallas Mavericks forward Nowitzki was in tremendous form as
he dominated Germany's win over a New Zealand side that played
Nowitzki was ably assisted by the Los Angeles Clippers'
Kaman who notched 20 points.
Greece was made to work hard for its win but 18 points
from Antonis Fotsis meant they had something to spare at the
end. Beims Slpitter posted 20 for Brazil.
Croatia had to come back from a 17-point deficit to beat
Trailing 26-9 in the first quarter, Croatia chipped away at
the lead and with Davor Kus and Marko Tomas scoring 15 points
each they finished as 95-81 winners.
"When we got up by 17, we thought the game was over. That
was a big mistake," said Puerto Rico's Larry Ayuso.
At halftime in their game against South Korea, the Canadians
were trailing by 16 points and with just three minutes left on
the clock they were still 11 points down.
But a 14-1 scoring spree saw them overturn the Koreans 79-77
and secure a shot at reaching Beijing.
"Without going into too much detail, it's a situation that
we decided to move forward with the players who have the passion
and desire to play for Canada," said coach Leo Rautins.
Three of the 12 teams competing will qualify for the Beijing
Olympics. Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, Iran, Lithuania,
Russia, Spain and the United States have already qualified.