The German men's basketball team has suffered a defeat in its second game at the Eurobasket tournament in Slovenia. Germany was unable to build on a sensational win in its first match against France on Wednesday.
The German team lost to Belgium 73:77 (63:63, 26:35) at the FIBA European Championships in Slovenia. For Belgium, Thursday evening's outcome ended its run of 10 defeats since 1982 against Germany.
The best shooters for the Germans were Robin Benzing with 24 points, and Heiko Schaffartzik with 15 points.
For the Belgian side, Jonathan Tabu and Sacha Massot led the way each with 15 points. A couple of three-pointers by Tabu in particular killed off Germany's hopes of a second straight victory. Both teams each have a win and a loss. On points, Belgium is placed third in Group A, with Germany fourth and due to face top-placed Ukraine later on Friday.
Despite the defeat, the young German team displayed a strong fighting spirit, coming back from what at one point was a 15-point deficit to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra frame, though, the Belgians were poised enough to put away the victory.
German coach Frank Menz had warned - following the surprise win over France on Wednesday - that the game against Belgium would be a difficult one. Speaking to reporters after the match, though, Menz denied that the inexperience of his team, which is without German NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki, was to blame for the defeat.
"I think part of it was the scheduling. I think it is completely normal and difficult to play against a good Belgian side after a better than average game."
Ukraine unbeaten, so far
The German team will now try to improve its chances in the competition in its match against Ukraine, which remains unbeaten after a 74-67 win over Israel.
Asked what his team could learn from the Belgium game, Menz replied: "Only, that despite the fact we weren't at our best, we came back from a 15-point deficit and gave ourselves a chance to win."
In Thursday's other games, Finland destroyed Sweden 81-60 in Group D following its victory over Turkey on the opening day.
Latvia beat Montenegro 73-72.
Croatia, which lost its first match 65-40 against Spain, defeated Georgia 77-76 to keep alive its hopes of progressing further.
tj,pfd/ipj (SID, dpa)