Defence made all the difference, says Finland guard Petteri Koponen
Finland served notice they will be very tough opponents for Hungary and Portugal in the EuroBasket 2011 Additional Qualifying Round by winning 79-74 at Germany in a friendly.
The triumph was not only the first for Finland against the Germans since 1995, it also marked the first time since 1973 that Germany hosted the Finns and lost.
Defense, Finland's star guard Petteri Koponen said, was the difference.
"The defense has to be our weapon," he said.
Finland played very well late in the contest.
Robin Benzing hit a couple of free-throws to knot the game at 74-74 with 54 seconds to play, but S Salin hit a lay-up and Finland's defensive pressure led to a Benzing pass going out of bounds.
Germany fouled Koivisto with 18 seconds to play and he buried both shots from the charity stripe.
Finland held on for the narrow win.
"It was a good dress rehearsal," Koponen said. "We showed that we can overcome these tough opponents with just our normal game."
Koponen led Finland with 19 points and Mikko Koivisto added 16.
Germany's Tim Ohlbrecht thrilled the home fans with a game high 24 and also grabbed seven rebounds.
"We knew that Finland are tough opponents," said Germany coach Dirk Bauermann.
The Germans will be a much stronger team come the start of the EuroBasket with superstar Dirk Nowitzki and fellow NBA center Chris Kaman set to join the squad later this month.
"I'm pleased despite the loss," Bauermann said.
"We fought well, but we also saw that we still have a lot of work to do.
"I believe that Finland has a very good chance of survival in the EuroBasket qualifiers against Hungary and Portugal."
Germany will play in Group B of the EuroBasket against Italy, France, Serbia, Latvia and Israel.