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BASKETBALL

Nowitzki, Neuner named top German athletes

Basketball superstar Dirk Nowitzki and biathlon powerhouse Magdalena Neuner have been named Germany’s “Athletes of the Year,” the country’s top sporting honour.

Nowitzki, Neuner named top German athletes
Photo: DPA

At a ceremony before 750 guests Sunday in Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg the pair made jokes and said they were grateful for the recognition by 1,500 journalists.

“Thanks to the sports journalists,” Nowitzki said jokingly via satellite video link. “You have proven for the first time that you understand something about basketball.”

Both towering figures in the German sports scene, this is Nowitzki’s first time being selected for the honour but Neuner’s second. She also received the prize in 2007.

Nowitzki, 33, and originally from Bavaria, just beat out 24-year-old Formula One World Championship driver Sebastian Vettel for the award.

A standout in the US National Basketball Association, the 2.13 metre tall Nowitzki won a Most Valuable Player award in 2007 and has led his Dallas Mavericks to 11 playoff appearances, including a championship title this year.

Nowitzki has also played for the German national basketball team since 1999, winning a bronze medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championship.

The 24-year-old Neuner, who is also a Bavarian, has won three medals at the Olympics, including two golds, earned 13 Biathlon World Championship medals and has won more than two-dozen World Cup races.

She announced earlier this month that she is retiring from competitive sports at the end of this winter season.

Last year’s Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund was also recognised with the journalists’ “Team of the Year” award.

The squad has won seven German championships and one UEFA Champions Cup since being formed in 1909.

The Local/DPA/mdm

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OFFBEAT

Turkish fans brawl at wheelchair match in Germany

A mass brawl at a wheelchair basketball match in Germany between supporters of Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Besiktas left seven fans needing hospital treatment, police have confirmed.

Turkish fans brawl at wheelchair match in Germany
A file picture of an unrelated wheelchair basketball match. Photo: DPA

The fight erupted on Saturday afternoon during the Champions Cup game when around 60 supporters from the two clubs attacked each other using knives and baseball bats in the sports hall in Zwickau, near Chemnitz, but there were no serious injuries.

“The game had to be abandoned and seven fans were taken to nearby hospitals. Six of them were released after receiving treatment,” said a police spokesman in a statement.

A bus-load of around 50 supporters left the sports hall immediately after the fighting broke out and were briefly detained by police near Erfurt, which is 120 kilometres west of Zwickau, while their bus was searched.

Police are investigating.

This is not the first time violence has broken out between fans of the rival Turkish clubs, who are both based in Istanbul, at a wheelchair basketball match.

In 2012, 10 supporters were arrested after a clash during a game in Istanbul when fans sprayed fire extinguishers at each other and police used tear gas to break up the fighting on the basketball court.