Germany's basketball team reached the semi-finals of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Championship for the first time by beating Spain in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
Germany hopes to get its hands on the World Championship trophy.
The identity of the world's best basketball team has yet to be revealed, but Germany's basketball players have taken another step towards possible greatness with a 70-62 quarterfinal victory over Spain in the 2002 World Championship this week.
The Germans, who had led their Spanish counterparts at the halfway point, had to come back from a six-point deficit going into the final quarter of the game.
Germany digs deep to recover early lead
Spain, looking for their first ever medal in these championships, kept alive hopes of gold, silver or bronze with a 55-49 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Germany went on an 11-0 run for a lead it never relinquished with tournament top scorer Dirk Nowitzki and NBA star leading his team to victory in the Conseco Fieldhouse Arena in Indianapolis.
Germany's prolific Dirk Nowitzki continued his scoring streak against Spain.
Nowitzki, who plays his domestic basketball in the American NBA league for the Dallas Mavericks, scored 20 points and eight rebounds while German reserve Marko Pesic contributed 14 points and preserved the lead by hitting six out of six free throws during the final 32 seconds.
The win sets up a semi-final clash on Saturday with unbeaten Argentina, victors over South American neighbours Brazil.
Team work and energy overcome emotional Spaniards
"Everybody came together and worked hard. That's how we won today," said Germany's Heinrik Roedl, who came off the bench to contribute two points and a pair of rebounds in the space of 16 minutes.
Spanish coach Javier Imbroda could hardly disguise the deep disappointment he felt at the result during an interview with FIBA.com. "It’s difficult to speak right now, because it’s a sad day for us. The spirit of this team is a winner. We received much pain in our soul."
German coach delighted as painful memory is erased
Germany coach Henrik Dettmann directs the energy of his team towards victory.
It was sweet revenge for the Germans, who suffered heartbreak at the hands of the Spanish team in last September's European Championships in Turkey.
"The players put in a tremendous effort today," said head coach Henrik Dettmann. "With the energy we had, we could supply a small city for a week."
"You could feel that energy before the game and in the locker room. We used that energy to play defence," he said. "We all know Spain is one of the best teams in the world, and we're just happy and lucky."
German fans may consider their team to be more than just lucky after seeing off Spain, ranked fifth in the world before this tournament, and beating the favored Russians 103-85 in the previous game.
World title up for grabs as US favourites crash out
Germany's chances of winning their first world title improved further when the overwhelming favourites, the NBA star-studded USA team, were eliminated after losing to European and current World champions Yugoslavia 81-78.
The loss was the second stunner for the US team, which fell earlier this week to Argentina in their first loss since NBA players began playing on the national team in 1992.
The Yugoslavs will play New Zealand in the other semi-final.
This latest run of results for the German team sees an increasing renaissance for basketball in the country where soccer reigns supreme.
Germany's Jorg Lutcke gets a basket on a slam dunk after getting past Spain's Pau Gosol.
The German national team has tasted major success in years past, winning the European Championship in 1993 in Munich. Germany were not only European Champions, they made impressive progress through the 1994 World Championships and basketball was suddenly a hot sport with a bright future.
But a period of mediocrity followed and basketball drifted back into the second tier of popular sports in Germany.
Now, with impressive progress made on the European stage, a plethora of stars and a possible ascension to the summit of the world game, the World Championships may be this team's crowning glory.