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Vene comes up clutch: Estonia hold on for memorable victory in Germany
NURNBERG (Germany) - Estonia produced a memorable result by beating Germany on the road with a hard-fought 69-66 success igniting their hopeful journey towards the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
Siim-Sander Vene's hook shot put Estonia ahead for the final time as the lowest-seeded nation in Group D silenced the home crowd in Nurnberg to spark jubilant scenes.
Turning point: There was little between the two sides throughout the contest with neither side leading by more than 7 points. Germany looked to have stemmed the tide as they turned a six-point deficit into a six-point lead at 61-55 in the fourth, but Estonia were not about to back down and had enough left for a big finish.
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Game heroes: Vene came up with the decisive basket to finish with 14 points in the win, but there was also pressure on Rauno Nurger and Kristian Kullamae to hold their nerve at the foul line. Kullamae handed out 7 assists to go with a joint team-high of 15 points alongside Kaspar Treier.
Stats don't lie: Estonia held Germany to just three points in the final six minutes of the contest and that proved to be a major factor in deciding the game. The hosts were kept to below 35 percent from the field overall, while Estonia were above 55 percent from beyond the arc as they hit 11 three-pointers to fuel their victory effort.
Bottom line: The perfect start for Estonia as they claim a confidence-boosting road win to take momentum into their home encounter with Israel with the victor finishing the first window in top spot. As for Germany, another disappointing result in the Qualifiers and they will look to bounce back on the road themselves with a tricky matchup with Poland.
They said: "Tough game, I know how tough it is to start a new era from zero, so I can understand what coach Herbert is going through. It was also tough for us obviously to predict what style they were going to play, but we have been together a bit longer, so we know a bit better how to play together. This was a great win for Estonian basketball, we have some young guys and we are trying to climb up in European basketball and this was a good night for us." - Estonia head coach Jukka Toijala
"Congratulations to Estonia, give them credit because they came out and shot the ball extremely well and fought very well. Obviously, for us this is disappointing. At the beginning of the second half we gave up a lot of threes but our bench guys came out and gave us energy. We just hesitated a lot on the offensive end, we didn't shoot the ball well. I told the guys that sometimes, to get where you want to go you have to go through adversity, and it makes you tougher. I think this group of guys will respond to adversity." - Germany head coach Gordie Herbert