Thanks to a 96-82 win against Puerto Rico on Sunday, July 20, the German national basketball team has sealed its ticket to the Beijing Olympics -- its first Olympic Games in 12 years.
Nowitzki scored 32 points at the last qualifying game to reach his dream
German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki starred at Sunday's match, scoring 32 points to help the team confirm the last of 12 spots on the Olympic line-up.
Newcomer Chris Kaman from the Los Angeles Clippers also pulled his weight, sinking 10 points with 12 rebounds. Kaman, who doesn't speak a word of German, was became a naturalized citizen earlier this month, thanks to his German-born great-grandparents.
"I've only been here 12 days but Dirk has waited 12 years for this to happen," said Kaman after the game. "I can't even imagine the emotions that he must be feeling at this moment."
Indeed, plenty of tears flowed on the Germany side after the victory, which came just one day after a bitter 70-76 defeat to fellow Olympic hopefuls Croatia. Even half an hour after the final whistle on Sunday, Nowitzki said he was still too emotional to give an interview.
Long road ahead
But the journey to gold has only just begun for Germany. Placed in Group B, Germany will face hosts China, world champions Spain, the US, Greece and Angola in the first round.
The US took home gold at the Sydney Games in 2000, but have since suffered a series of setbacks, including sixth place at the 2002 world championships in Indianapolis and third place at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Nevertheless, the US is among the favorites in Beijing, along with Spain, Greece and defending Olympic champions Argentina.
Along with Argentina, Australia, Iran, Lithuania, Croatia, and European champions Russia will compete in Group A.