HAMBURG (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Right after the opening ceremony held in the Sporthalle Hamburg, the FIBA U17 WC hosts Germany entered the competionas they took on Canada.
Both teams tried to make their mark by defending at an extremely high level. Each and every point was hard-earned, it came to no surprise players were sent to the free throw line a lot - Germany went 11-of-14 and Canada 10-of-12 in the first half.
Even though the northern americans seemed to pull away shortly before halftime, a pair of three pointers by Besnik Bekteshi and Malik Mueller closed the gap within seconds (34:33, 20").
Germany took hold of the lead but Canada did not back down. Coach Roy Rana desperatly watched out for an opportunity to give guard prospect Kevin Pangos some rest - an almost impossible task considering how valuable the young floor leader is for his team. With Pango back on court the game was close until the end as Bekteshi hit two free throws to give the host a three point lead with 52 seconds left on the clock.
Dyshawn Pierre struck back finishing strong at the glass to bring Canada within one.
On the next possession German forward Julius Wolff missed an open three-pointer giving Canada a chance of winning this thriller with the last shot.
Pango nearly lost the ball but managed to find a wide open Anthony Bennett on the wing, who initially fired and missed. With less than five seconds on the clock Pango got his hands on the offensive rebound, his desperation shot would not go in as Germany celebrated its first win in group B action.
Frank Menz, Germany head coach: "I am glad we won against a very good Canada team. We played with much confidence, although our players were very nervous at the very beginning of the game. In the end I don't care how we won this game, the only thing that matters is that we did. "
Roy Rana, Canada head coach: "A very painful loss for us on the first game. Bekteshi made a ton of big shots. We got two open look at the end but missed, that's basketball. We have to prepare our young players for tomorrow's game and have to take it day by day from now on - there's a lot of games left."
FIBA / JB