Medal goal achieved: Germany’s basketball players won EC bronze at home and end a long dry period in Berlin. The American superstar also congratulates.
Superstar Dirk Nowitzki treated himself to a glass of sparkling wine after the bronze coup, manager Dennis Schröder went straight to his retired predecessor Robin Benzing: German basketball players won a European Championship medal on home soil, ending a 17-year hiatus. Immediately after the 82:69 (36:23) victory over Poland, the party started in Berlin’s lively arena. “It’s really cool. I think it’s great that we got rewarded for a great six or seven weeks. It was really fun,” young NBA star Franz Wagner said of the coup.
First podium in 17 years
With 26 points, Schröder led the hosts to bronze and their first podium since 2005, when Nowitzki and Co won silver in Serbia. Schröder, Wagner and Co. received their medals immediately and before the final, and especially the new captain was celebrated by the crowd after difficult years and awarded “MVP! MVP!” scream knowingly.
Daniel Theis celebrated the coup with his children and the official mascot, the whole team gathered on the podium for a jubilant photo before the bronze heroes with their medals around their necks said a euphoric goodbye to the locker room. “We expected a bit more, but I think we can be very happy and very proud. The medal also belongs a bit to Robin, said Andreas Obst, referring to the former captain Benzing. Wagner cheekily said, “The sky’s the limit.”
Germany’s ninth European Championship match in 18 days was one of prolonged struggle and cramping, but it didn’t matter. The Poles in particular looked exhausted and outplayed in front of the official crowd of 12,913, including long-time leading player Benzing. Germany still struggled at first and didn’t really get going until just before half time.
Contrary to the basketball festival nights against Greece (107:96) in the quarterfinals and Spain (91:96) in the semifinals, the atmosphere in the arena was a little more subdued this time. There had been a little basketball euphoria in Germany in the last few days – also because RTL broadcast all three German games on free TV starting from the quarterfinals.
National coach Gordon Herbert’s medal coup
The medal coup in his first tournament goes to national coach Gordon Herbert. The 63-year-old has had to face many setbacks since he took office a year ago: he competed in the World Cup qualifiers with the B team, and there were also no solid components for the domestic European Championships, such as Maxi Kleber, Moritz Wagner or Isaiah Hartenstein. But Schröder took a functioning collective to the semifinals and thus further than NBA stars Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) on his teams, which were traded much higher in the beginning.
In order to leave the EC competition happy and proud, you had to win a small final. “I hope the boys will reward themselves today,” said German Basketball Association (DBB) president Ingo Weiss before the game. Head coach Herbert had faith in the same team that narrowly lost to Spain on Friday night. “It was not only a physical recovery, but also a mental recovery,” Herbert told RTL. He also blamed himself for the semifinal loss.
The game against Poland was flawless at first
The game against Poland was initially characterized by a lot of lack of concentration and mistakes. Symbolically, there was NBA pro Daniel Theis, who did not put the ball in the basket, but carelessly put it in the ring. Captain Schröder, so strong earlier in the tournament, also needed some time to warm up, but was again Germany’s top scorer at halftime with twelve points.
His predecessor, Benzing, sat in the first row and constantly applauded good deeds. “All the boys were greeting me before the game so I got pee in my eyes,” said the 33-year-old at Magentasport. The August settlement did not go smoothly, but Benzing returned in time for the medal match – at least as a spectator and a fan. Of course, he was disappointed, but he watched all the games, Benzing added.
The half ended with a 13-point lead
Johannes Voigtmann said after a mixed half that still ended with a 13-point lead: “Defensively, we benefit from the fact that the Poles don’t score many goals either. But overall, the defense is fine.” Theis made it clear that it was a lot about the mental side. Like 54:95 against France in the semi-final, the exhausted Poles didn’t have much to worry about at first. But then the Herbert team experienced a glaring slump, Poland equalized 59:59. But then the German three-pointers finally fell and the medal celebrations could begin for Schröder and Co. “I never dreamed I’d be standing there with a medal,” Obst said.