A three-point play by center Christian Welp with 3.9 seconds to play Sunday gave Germany a 71-70 victory over Russia and its first European Championship title.
Welp, a former NBA player who was a two-time All-Pacific 10 Conference selection at the University of Washington, drove for a dunk, drew a foul and made the winning free throw to complete the upset.
Germany had never finished higher than fifth in the European Championships--in 1985, also at home.
“We deserved to win and we beat a very talented team that has a big future ahead of it,” said Germany’s Yugoslavia-born coach, Svetislav Pesic.
“I hope this victory means a new beginning for German basketball.”
The Germans squeezed into the quarterfinals after losing three preliminary round games.
They upset Spain and Greece to reach the final. Then, before a crowd of 10,000 at Olympic Hall, the Germans consistently hit their shots while shutting down the Russians outside.
“We gave too many balls away, but my players are young, they have no experience and I knew they would be nervous,” said Russian Coach Yuri Selikhov, whose club failed in a bid to add to the record 14 titles won by the former Soviet Union.
“We made very big mistakes in the last minute, but this is a very talented team.”
Welp finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Kai Nuernberger scored 14 points and Henning Harnisch had 13.
The Germans did a good job in the second half of guarding Russia’s Sergei Babkov. He finished with 24 points, but was limited to six in the second half. Mikhail Mikhailov had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Russia, and Sergei Bazarevich scored 14 points.
“It was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen in a long time,” said Golden State’s Don Nelson, who will coach the United States team in next year’s World Championships at Toronto. “Germany should be very proud to be champion without (Detlef) Schrempf.”