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Germany rally from 23 down to beat Israel in overtime, qualify for World Cup
LEIPZIG (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Germany fought back from 23 points down and used a thrilling buzzer-beater to tie the game at the end of regulation before defeating Israel 112-98 after overtime in order to book their ticket for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
Dennis Schroder collected 30 points and 13 assists while Robin Benzing scored 24 points and Maxi Kleber chipped in 13 points and 8 rebounds as Germany improved their record in the European Qualifiers Second Ground Group L to 8-0, securing a top-three spot in the group, with four games to spare.
Jake Cohen paced Israel with 23 points while Tamir Blatt collected 16 points and 10 assists and both Nimrod Levi and Itay Segev scored 14 points in the loss, which dropped Israel's record to 3-5.
Turning point: Germany trailed 58-35 early in the third quarter but fought back to go ahead by 7 points with less than 3 minutes left to play. But with Israel up by 2 with 0.4 seconds left in regulation, Tomer Ginat failed to hit the rim as he intentionally missed a free throw and Germany were awarded possession. After a timeout, Schroder inbounded the ball at the rim to Kleber, who laid it in at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Germany scored the first 8 points in the extra session and Israel's will was broken.
Game hero: Schroder tallied 30 points on 10-of-24 shooting and dished out a World Cup Qualifiers record 13 assists to go with 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block for Germany.
Stats don't lie: Germany were 14 of 34 (42 percent) from three-point range compared to the 9 of 31 (29 percent) display from Israel. Germany also got 44 points in the paint, to Israel's 32.
Bottom line: With 8 wins in as many games in the Qualifiers, Germany return to the FIBA Basketball World Cup after missing the 2014 edition in Spain. In the next window in November-December, they will travel to Greece and then host Estonia. Israel dropped to 3-5 and face an uphill battle to qualify as Group L's third-placed team. Israel's next window sees them playing host to Serbia before heading to Georgia.
They said: "It was a very terrible first half from our side. A lot of turnovers, a lot of open shots for Israel. They made a lot of threes. That's why we were behind. In the second half we had a lot of energy, especially at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth and we kept going. It shows the character we have as a team. At the end of the game we believed in ourselves. We fought very hard and won the game." - Germany guard Ismet Akpinar
"Obviously this was a very tight game that could have gone either way. It looked like Israel had already won the game. Then they miss a free throw to the side and we had another chance. Dennis (Schroder) made an incredible pass to Maxi (Kleber), we came back and had a new life there. We brought it home in overtime. I can't say enough about the character of this team, how proud I am of each one of them that puts it on the line every time we play. Unbelievable fight, very proud. Obviously we can’t start the game like this, but at this point it’s tough to be mad at them. But it has to be talked about at some point.
We should be celebrating that we qualified for the World Cup with an 8-0 record. The games are difficult, basketball is always difficult. It takes a very, very, very special performance to win this kind of game. I don’t know if I really have to watch the first half. I am so happy about the evening that I will not watch it tonight - some point in time. There are only smiling faces. After this kind of game, it could have gone in either direction. It was so tight. But there has to be a winner. And we won in the end. Of course, everybody was in a great mood. I have very, very rarely experienced this kind of game. We will talk about this game for a long time - the game in Leipzig against Israel. We qualified for the World Cup prematurely after just eight games. Who would have thought that with the group opponents that we have, that we would be qualified already. It’s a great achievement, and it’s a collective one. It’s not just this team but a large pool of players who were already ready to play in all Qualifiers and I am extremely thankful for everything they showed on the court." - Germany head coach Henrik Rodl
"Germany is a very high level team. We knew that, we all saw it today. As a team, we played very good basketball. Unfortunately we didn't come up with the win. But we have a lot of positive points to take from this game. I'm proud of the guys and proud of the coaching staff. And hopefully it will get better." - Israel forward Itay Segev
"It was a tough one. We found a really special way to lose a really great game of us. Actually we won the game twice. We played great for 30 minutes, Germany came back. We found a way in the last five minutes to win the game again. It was tough, not only the loss but the way. It was tough for the players. More than anything I really wanted that win for the players. We have a lot of young players, almost a new national team. It could be a really special one for the guys, but… it's tough to think about positive things now but there were a lot of good things to take out of this game. I'm really proud of my players. In the end, I'm the first one who should learn from those situations, to close the game. I'm taking responsibility for the loss. Even those this is tough for the players, we really take a lot from this game for the players for the future." - Israel head coach Oded Kadesh