It will be interesting to see how German basketball fans will remember this tournament. Will they focus on the fact that Germany has exceeded nearly every expectation by competing at an incredibly high level against some of the best teams in Europe? Or will it be remembered for the near misses and the heartbreaking defeats that have seen Germany drop to a frustrating 0-2? After blowing a seven point 4th quarter lead in an opening game loss to Croatia, Germany showed incredible heart and determination in a devastating 79-77 loss, which saw Serbia hit a shot at the buzzer for the victory. Leading the way for Germany was Gonzaga commit Elias Harris. As I predicted yesterday, Harris bounced back in tremendous fashion from his opening game performance, and nearly carried Germany to an improbable victory. Here is quick look at how Elias played against Serbia:
Elias Harris: 24 points (10/13; 1/1) and 5 reboundsBefore I even address how well Elias played today, I first want to talk about the incredible final minute he played, when he nearly single-handidly led Germany to a comeback win. In the final 1:30 of the game, Elias scored seven points, had a steal which led to another basket, and then dished out the assist on the bucket that tied the game at 77-77 with 10 seconds left. What this immediately shows is the versatility that we can expect from Elias in a Gonzaga uniform. Just in that final 1:30, he showed three point range, good defensive instincts (he also pulled down a defensive rebound), and showed a knack for finding the open player. These are rare traits for a 6'8 PF to possess, and I think this clearly demonstrates why the staff is so high on Harris, and why it is reasonable to expect an immediate impact.
Now as we look at this game, the thing that immediately jumps out to me is how efficient Elias shot from the field. After struggling from the field in the opening game, Elias was incredibly effective on the offensive end, as he hit 10/13 shots, and also hit his one shot from three point range. While I think it would be a little much to anticipate this kind of shooting throughout his career, this performance indicates to me that Elias is capable of being the third or fourth option in the offense next year. I think that the expectations we should have for Elias fall right into the middle of his performance from the first two games at this tournament. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect Elias to average around 11 points and five rebounds next season, and I don't think anyone should be surprised if he pushes for a starting spot at the PF position.
With the loss today, Germany was eliminated from the competition. Therefore, the game against the Ukraine tomorrow will be the final game for Germany in the competition,. The Germans take the court at 9:00 AM, and they will face a Ukraine team that is currently undefeated.