Worlds roundup: Nowitzki rescues Germany

Updated: August 27, 2006, 11:25 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Second round
Germany 78, Nigeria 77
SAITAMA, Japan -- Nowitzki, who scored 23 points, gave Germany a 78-71 lead on a dunk with 2 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 final eight."

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 4 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 to advance.

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 behind 18-11.

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press