Birthday boy Franz Wagner was celebrated by his teammates at a convivial dinner, captain Dennis Schröder heated up the atmosphere at the table again and again loudly: After the demonstration of power against European champions Slovenia, Germany's basketball players travel to Cologne with a lot of self-confidence and in the best of moods, where at the European Championship preliminary round the foundation stone for the first medal since 2005 is to be laid.
The 90:71 win over Slovenia and superstar Luka Doncic gave the German team at least a brief feeling: We can beat anyone like this! That would have to be proven on Thursday (8.30 p.m. / Magentasport) at the start of the European Championship against France.
Schröder: "EM is a completely different league"
Captain Schröder, who took over the post a few weeks ago from Robin Benzing, who had been sorted out, warned directly: "The European Championships are in a completely different league. We have to wash that down and be ready for the European Championships. Because that will be in the bomb group with Slovenia and France and Lithuania another league." With Schröder as a playmaker, Franz Wagner as an extremely versatile winger and Johannes Voigtmann in the middle, national coach Gordon Herbert has found the framework that will carry him through the European Championship despite numerous prominent failures.
"It's going to be really cool. We're really looking forward to Thursday," said Wagner. The Berliner turned 21 on Saturday, only made his debut in the national jersey this summer, but plays like a ripped-off veteran. In addition to Schröder, whose recently injured ankle seems to be holding up, Wagner is the very big hope that he can really achieve the medal he has set himself. "It's a very different game than the NBA, but I have a lot of freedom and that's obviously great for me as a young player," commented Wagner, who plays for the Orlando Magic in the NBA.
Good atmosphere in the German team
His brother Moritz is not on the floor due to injury, but fired wildly from the sidelines in Munich. Also a sign of how the team spirit is right before the start of the tournament, even if many failures had meanwhile damaged the confidence in a successful EM. In the extremely strong group B, Germany, despite the home advantage, is more of an outsider in the race - France, Lithuania and also the Slovenes around Doncic, who are weakening in Munich, are rated more strongly.
An important decision will be made for Herbert and the national team on Tuesday. Then Daniel Theis from the Indiana Pacers wants to announce whether or not he can play after a knee injury. He was "very confident," said Theis on Sunday before his return to team training. The NBA professional would play an important role under the basket next to the seeded Voigtmann, especially defensively. "It would be super important if Daniel was there. It would be really cool to have Daniel there," said young star Wagner.