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Classification round of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, Saitama, Japan. France vs Germany. (31.08.2006)
31/08/2006Game Report, France vs Germany, 75-73, Classification Round
SAITAMA (FIBA World Championship) - German star Dirk Nowitzki stepped out of bounds with 0.9 seconds remaining as France beat Germany 75-73 to secure a spot in the game for fifth place at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

The Germans failed to execute offensively down the stretch and needed a desperation basket in the final second after Mickael Gelabale's double-pump layup with 1.8 seconds to go.

Joseph Gomis came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points for France, but none more important than his acrobatic three-pointer at the 20.9 second mark to tie the game at 73-73.

"I think we got back to the good French team we usually are. Yesterday's game (the quarter-final loss to Greece) gave us some energy to get back to who we really are. Now we have to look ahead to a tough test on Saturday," said Florent Piertrus.

Power forward Ronny Turiaf proved dominant over stretches in scoring 15 points. France captain Boris Diaw added 13 points and eight rebounds but commited eight turnovers. However he did atone for two missed free throws with a steal in the closing seconds.

Les Bleus will play Turkey on Saturday for fifth place in the tournament while Germany face Lithuania for seventh place on Sunday.

"For us it's unbelievable to play the game for fifth place," France coach Claude Bergeaud said. "In order to recover from the loss in the quarter-finals, we explained to the players that we need to have a new objective, and this is our objective now. It is a new World Championship for our team."

The Germans wasted a 29-point performance by Nowitzki. Steffen Hamann scored 12 points while Robert Garrett chipped in 10 off the bench. And Ademola Okulaja had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

"It's a tough loss. We had the game won, we were up by three, but they made a tough three and we turned the ball over twice," said Nowitzki, who hit 12 of 23 shots from the field.

"France were more aggressive in the first half but after the break I thought we left it all out and competed as a team and we made some good plays, we should have won this game."

France started with some opening jitters on offense, committing three turnovers as Okulaja's three-pointer gave Germany an 11-5 lead with 4:38 left in first period.

Bergeaud settled his team down with a time-out and Les Bleus grabbed the lead after the first quarter on Laurent Foirest's three-pointer at the buzzer.

Turiaf began to make his presence felt with a dunk and a free throw before Gomis' three-pointer gave France a 25-18 lead with 7:23 left before half-time.

The advantage increased to 31-20 with another Turiaf basket at the 3:35 mark. Nowitzki's jumper ended a three-minute scoreless streak for the Germans, but Turiaf hit again to make it 36-22.

Germany closed the deficit to seven points - 38-31 - at the break after Sven Schultze buried a three-pointer just before the buzzer.

Dirk Bauermann's troops still had no answer for Turiaf, who ran off five straight points to help France stay ahead 45-36.

But Nowitzki scored nine points as Germany went on a 19-5 spurt to even the game 50-50 with three minutes left in the third. The Germans could have been better off had Hamann not missed three free throws within 24 seconds.

Schultze hit another big shot to give Germany the lead 52-50. And Robert Garrett's three-pointer just before the buzzer put Germany ahead 57-53 going into the fourth.

The fourth quarter proved to be a thriller.

Diaw's trey put France back ahead 58-57 before Hamann's three foul shots made it 60-58. Nowitzki's jumper gave Germany the lead, 64-60, only to see Turiaf convert a three-point play to make it a one-point game again.

Gelabale evened the game at 66-66 with a three-pointer at the 4:38 mark.

Nowitzki scored his third straight basket - a trey for a 69-66 lead - but France pulled ahead once more on Florest's foul shots for a 70-69 advantage with 2:58 to play.

The French failed to convert on four straight possessions, allowing Germany to grab a 73-70 lead on Okulaja's two free throws with 1:03 to play.

But Les Bleus pulled even one last time on Gomis' trey with 20.9 seconds left. Okulaja then turned the ball over with 18 seconds and Germany sent Diaw to the charity stripe with 11.7 to go.

Diaw missed both foul shots, and Demond Greene snatched the rebound and rushed to push the ball forward. His hurried pass was stolen by Diaw. He then drove to the basket and passed off to Gelabale, who scored over Nowitzki with 1.8 ticks to go.

After a time-out, Nowitzki collected Okulaja's inbounds pass on the wing but stepped out of bounds as he tried to turn and set up for a game-winner.

By David Hein, FIBA