German basketball team upsets France at European championship | News | DW | 05.09.2013
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German basketball team upsets France at European championship

Germany’s men's basketball team have pulled off an upset in their opening game of the European championship. The young squad beat France's "golden generation," but coach Menz expects a tougher game against Belgium.

Germany built on a 43-39 lead at the half to defeat France 80-74 in their opening contest played in Ljubljana on Wednesday. France, led by five NBA players, including superstar Tony Parker, had gone into the tournament as one of the favorites.

The victory puts Germany top in Group A and in the driver's seat as they seek to advance to the second round.

Germany's top scorer was Robin Benzing with 19 points, while Parker was best for France with 18 points.

"It is an unbelievable feeling that the perfect start for us," said Tibor Pleiss who was one of the starters for Germany. "Now we have to get some rest, then hopefully we will continue in the same way," he added.

The national team is without its NBA players, including superstar Dirk Nowitzki. However the Dallas Mavericks' power forward, who is giving the tournament a miss for personal reasons, is with the squad in spirit.

"Fingers crossed, let's go boys," Nowitzki tweeted shortly before Germany's opening game.

Coach Frank Menz told reporters afterward the fact that Germany had played - and narrowly lost - against France twice in exhibition games prior to the tournament had helped prepare his players for Wednesday's contest.

"We no longer had too much respect for them. We didn't come into the game and think: Wow, there's [Tony] Parker or a [Boris] Diaw, or the others," Menz said. "Instead, it was simply normal. Without the previous games, we wouldn't have had that."

Menz added that it was too early to celebrate and that the win against France will only really mean something if Germany managed to advance to the second round. They could take another step towards advancing, when they play Belgium later on Thursday.

"Against Belgium it will be a completely different game, it won't be so relaxed," Menz said. "Today we had no pressure whatsoever, we could just play our game and week seized our opportunity."

Belgium will be looking to bounce back from a 58-57 defeat against Ukraine on Wednesday. In Group A's other opening match, Great Britain upset Israel 75-71 in overtime.

pfd/kms (SID, dpa)