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Germany come from behind, outmuscle Mexico in the fourth quarter
SPLIT (Croatia) - For 32 minutes, Mexico were on cloud nine, but the German weather forecast of clear skies over Spaladium at 18:30 CET turned out to be correct. Germany won their debut in Split, 82:76, relying on their physical dominance and bench depth to guide them home in this one.
Mexico got an amazing performance from their leader as Francisco Cruz exploded for 30 points on the day, but the shooting guard remained without a field goal over the last five minutes of the game. Gustavo Ayon's 18 points and 15 rebounds also go to waste for coach Omar Quintero.Turning point: Germany needed something to get them going offensively, and Andreas Obst knocked down a pair of three-pointers to keep the Germans close, down by five heading into the fourth quarter. That's where all of Germany's size and strength came into play as they put a lid on their rim and held Mexico to four points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of their own on the other end to open up a 78-71 lead with four minutes to play, capped by another Obst three-pointer. There was no coming back from that for Mexico.
Game hero: Coach Henrik Rodl had that luxury to leave Joshiko Saibou on the bench to start the game, knowing that his back-up point guard can show up with instant offense and defense as the sixth man. Saibou finished with 17 points, Germany were a +13 team with him on the floor. No other player was in double digits in the +/- for the winning side.
Stats don't lie: Fundamentals are important. Germany knocked down 25-of-31 free throws, picking up a +14 advantage in that department, punishing Mexico's aggressiveness from the tip-off to the end of the game.
Bottom line: Germany saw a few warning signs in Split, and still managed to pick up the win. They will play against Russia knowing that a slower start like the one they had against Mexico will not go unpunished. Mexico can be satisfied with their performance, but unless they prolong the good period to 35 or more minutes against Russia, they will miss out on the Semi-Finals in Spaladium Arena.