NBA superstar Luka Doncic has temporarily interrupted the basketball festival of the German team at the home European Championship with defending champion Slovenia.
The German team around Captain Dennis Schröder had to admit defeat to the Slovenians in the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, which was again sold out with 18,017 spectators, with 80:88 (36:44) and thus missed the early group victory.
"In the end, it wasn't enough offensively to compensate for what Luka did. We discarded too many free things. It wasn't a brilliant performance offensively and we didn't really find the means defensively," said co-captain Johannes Voigtmann at Magentasport . The center added: "He can play basketball well." Franz Wagner, who was weak this time, said: "We have to play a bit more physically and get smarter." The tournament was "up and down".
With a record of 3:1 victories, the team of national coach Gordon Herbert, who have already qualified for the knockout round in Berlin, still has the chance to finish first in Group B, which was known as the hammer group before the tournament. To do this, Germany must win its last group game this Wednesday (8.30 p.m. / Magentasport) against Hungary, who have already been eliminated, and Slovenia must first lose to France. In any case, Germany will then contest the round of 16 in Berlin on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Berlin.
Towered over Doncic
Shortly before the European Championship, the German team clearly won against Slovenia in the World Cup qualifier (90:71). But unlike in Munich, Doncic and Co. seemed much more motivated and committed this time. The 93:97 against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday put the defending champion under pressure in the race for a good starting position for the knockout rounds.
The German team, on the other hand, looked a bit tired and unfocused two days after the dramatic win against Lithuania after double extra time. Schröder only hit one of his six shots in the first quarter, Wagner, who was still outstanding, didn't score a point in the first ten minutes against Lithuania. Consequently, Germany was seven points behind after the first quarter (14:21).
In the second section, the gap even grew to 14 points (17:31). But then Schröder finally hit his first three, the German team came within six points (25:31). Just when the momentum seemed to be on the side of Schröder and Co., superstar Doncic extended the Slovenian lead by five points in a row.
Eight points behind at halftime
At half-time, Germany was deservedly eight points behind (36:44). Also because Doncic already had 17 points and seven rebounds. "It's incredible, a finished project," said Germany's basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki in advance of his 23-year-old successor at the Dallas Mavericks.
"We haven't found our game offensively yet. We'll gather in the dressing room now and hopefully things will look better in the second half," summed up Johannes Thiemann from German champions Alba Berlin at the break in "Magentasport". And in fact, the German team came out of the dressing room more determined and temporarily reduced the gap to two points. But then Doncic took command again and almost single-handedly inflicted Germany's first defeat. Germany's captain Schröder was sent off after a technical and an unsportsmanlike foul in the last few seconds.