The first medal in 17 years is said to have been just the beginning for the German basketball players. After the exhilarating EM celebrations with goose bumps in Cologne and Berlin, Dennis Schröder and Co. are not afraid of any international competition.
"If we have everyone together, we are hard to beat," said Schröder. This summer, the NBA pro refuted all his critics and finally took over the role of basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki's leader.
After the 82:69 win over Poland, Schröder and Nowitzki celebrated third place with the other bronze heroes around celebration beast Andreas Obst. In the lounge of the team hotel on the Lützowufer, the German giants around Schröder and Franz Wagner, who played so cheekily, watered the triumph late into the night, which weeks ago had hardly been thought possible.
Nowitzki was always close at hand as an EM ambassador and sees a great future for German basketball. "The top performers are all still young. There's a lot in it. Some weren't there due to injuries. Bright times could lie ahead for basketball in Germany," said Nowitzki in his analysis of the European Championship at MagentaSport. In Maximilian Kleber, Moritz Wagner and Isaiah Hartenstein, three other top-class players from the NBA could join this year's core. In 2005 Nowitzki led the German team to silver in Serbia - the last precious metal until Sunday. "The boys absolutely rewarded themselves for a great tournament. They absolutely deserve it," said Nowitzki. "I've also been in the situation of losing the semi-finals and then the game for third place," said Nowitzki, looking ahead to the 2001 European Championship. "I'm happy that they have something in their hands now. "
The somewhat shaky success against Poland in the meantime also consoled the German team after the bitter semi-final defeat by eventual European champions Spain two days earlier. "After the win against Greece, we had the feeling that we could do even more," said national coach Gordon Herbert, who coached the team to the podium right away at its first major tournament. "It's one of the most special moments in my life. Having children is number one, but it's extremely special."
Herbert flew to his family in Finland on Monday morning to recover from the grueling weeks with many setbacks, but at the end even more highlights. But even in the catacombs of the Berlin Arena at the Ostbahnhof, Herbert was looking ahead. "If you look at the successful national teams, they were together for a long time before they were successful. We're just getting started with this group," said the 63-year-old Canadian. Herbert announced a three-year plan when he took office. After the successful start at the European Championships, the focus is now on the World Cup in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines next year and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. "We have so much quality in this dressing room - not only the NBA players, but also the Euroleague professionals," said Schröder, who was rightly voted into the all-star team of the European Championship after his strong performance. "Hopefully it's a starting signal for several years," said NBA professional Daniel Theis, who had fought his way through rehab despite knee problems in order to be there at the European Championships in his own country. "It shows what it means to them to play for Germany," said Herbert.
Call-up for upcoming internationals without NBA players
When the national coach calls his squad back together for the next international matches in November in the World Cup qualifiers against Finland (November 10) and Slovenia (November 13), most of the bronze medal winners will be absent. The competitive chaos in international basketball ensures that the players employed in the NBA cannot be there. The Euroleague players are also in danger of being canceled due to conflicting dates. But they all want to be back next summer. "I'm definitely in the mood," said Franz Wagner, who, after a strong debut season in the NBA during the European Championship, made another huge leap in development and is about to have a great career in the USA. "Franz will take over this national team, he has an incredible character," praised Schröder, who wants to continue wearing the jersey with the eagle on the chest. "I'll stay here until I can no longer walk." Together we should then build on this special basketball summer, in which Schröder and Co. played their way into the hearts of German sports fans and even made a comeback with RTL in Free-TV enticed. "I think we've made basketball sexy again in Germany," said Schröder.