22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
7 Johannes Voigtmann (GER)
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Voigtmann leads Germany to top spot in Group J; Yaacov steps up for Israel

MUNICH (Germany) - A sell-out crowd in Finland enjoyed a dramatic finish, but not a happy end. When it mattered most, Germany turned to their biggest star to guide them home, and finish top of the group in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.

Both teams advanced before the February window had started alongside Slovenia. Israel, Sweden and Estonia were playing for pride below the qualifying line.

# Team P W L % For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 GER Germany 12 10 2 83.3 960 854 106 80 71.2 22
2 FIN Finland 12 9 3 75.0 978 934 44 81.5 77.8 21
3 SLO Slovenia 12 7 5 58.3 994 958 36 82.8 79.8 19
4 SWE Sweden 12 5 7 41.7 919 939 -20 76.6 78.2 17
5 ISR Israel 12 4 8 33.3 944 948 -4 78.7 79 16
6 EST Estonia 12 4 8 33.3 870 977 -107 72.5 81.4 16

Voigtmann for the win

Germany and Finland were in a high scoring, fast paced battle for 40 minutes, and it seemed the momentum was swinging Finland's way when coach Lassi Tuovi drew up a marvelous play for Topias Palmi's three-pointer to tie the game at 81-all with a minute to play.

But that's when Johannes Voigtmann decided it was time to silence the packed stands. The 30-year-old finished the game with a personal 6-0 run to set the final score at 87-81.

Voigtmann finished with 23 points, knocking down five of his seven shots from three-point range, and he flirted with a triple-double with 9 rebounds and 9 assists also to his name. He wasn't the best passer of the game, 21-year-old Justus Hollatz tied the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers record with 14 assists, while also scoring 6 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.

Coach Gordie Herbert will be happy with his team's shooting - they were 56 percent from the field, 63 percent from beyond the arc (15-of-24), and 71 percent from the charity stripe.

Meanwhile, Finland had a 20-point game by Mikael Jantunen. They lost the rebounding battle 37-26, and their bench was outscored by 12, way too much in a close game like this.


Israeli 18-year-old shines in Slovenia

With Slovenia already through, and Israel already out, this was all about prestige. It was also about a teenager who almost got a triple-double coming off the bench in an 87-79 win for the Israeli side.

Noam Yaacov started the season with ASVEL in France, before moving to Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in Israel. The move saw him grow more confident, with sublime performances en route to winning the Israeli State Cup. To finish off an impressive February, Yaacov collected 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals, all coming in 27 minutes off the bench.

Nimrod Levi was the top scorer with 20, Bar Timor also scored 18, while Oz Blayzer had 11 points and a team-high +22 in the +/- department.

Gregor Glas had 26 points in 21 minutes off the bench for Slovenia, but coach Aleksander Sekulic had to shake Nadav Zilberstein's hand and congratulate him on a win.

Slovenia will now wait for the draw, knowing they will play the first part of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Japan.

Estonia steal a road win

Sweden had everything in their hands in this one, entering the final minute of the game with a 65-61 lead. But Hugo Toom made both shots from the line, and then stole the ball immediately on the ensuing out of bounds play under the Swedish rim, dishing out an assist for a Mikk Jurkatamm three-pointer.

Just like that, the road team was up 66-65 and the upper hand in the last 60 seconds of the game. They went back and forth, with the climax coming after Alexander Lindqvist made a triple to give Sweden a 70-68, only to see Estonia respond the same way, Kregor Hermet's stepback three making it 71-70 Estonia with 23 seconds to play.

Melwin Pantzar had a chance for another lead change, but made only one of his two shots from the line inside the last ten seconds. Jurkatamm drew a foul and did the same, but after he missed the second shot, Mihkel Kirves grabbed the offensive board and the time ran out, showing the final score - 72-71 Estonia.

That was their fourth win in 12 games, as the veteran Kristjan Kitsing needed less than 14 minutes to score a team-high 14 points. Pantzar had 23 in a losing effort, but Sweden still finished above both Estonia and Israel, owning a 5-7 record.