Dennis Schröder and the German basketball players are ready for the USA. The 2022 European Championship bronze medalists clearly defeated rival Greece 84:71 (33:32) on Saturday evening and are now playing against top favorite USA for tournament victory in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to numerous highlight passes, the prudent game designer Schröder also shone as a point collector and stood out together with his NBA colleagues Daniel Theis (15 points) and Franz Wagner (14).
"We took another step forward. That's what we wanted in every game, that's what we did," said Schröder. "I said to the guys in the dressing room: You have to be happy. What we're doing here is a dream. We can be happy doing what we're doing."
Just over 1000 spectators in the arena
The loss of star player Giannis Antetonkoumpo was clearly noticeable to the clearly defeated Greeks. The first German duel with the USA since 2008 on Sunday evening (6 p.m. / MagentaSport) will not only be the dress rehearsal for the World Cup in Japan (from August 25), but also a game for the title at the Persian event initiated by the USA Golf. Schröder didn't want to say much about the opponent. "We're looking at ourselves," the captain clarified before the final stage of the almost three-week preparation.
The test match in the ultra-modern Etihad Arena on the Persian Gulf could not be compared with the rapid German victory in the EM quarter-finals in 2022 - especially not in terms of atmosphere. Only a little more than 1000 spectators found themselves in the hall, most of the seats in the 18,000-seat arena were hung with black cloths from the start.
Germany didn't seem to arouse much interest against Greece in the United Arab Emirates. It was different the day before when Team USA made its debut. This time US coach Steve Kerr and young star Paolo Banchero were in the hall, but only in spectator roles. On Sunday, the Olympic champion wants to win the event with a win over Schröder and Co.
Contrast between starting formation and second row
The German team got used to the extreme weather with up to 45 degrees since Wednesday and also visited the well-known Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi before the two World Cup tests. On the floor, the pros of national coach Gordon Herbert approached the test like a World Cup emergency: Schröder, Franz Wagner and Theis each contributed five quick points in a hectic initial phase and put Germany in the lead. When Schröder served his buddy Theis with a compliment, the fans cheered enthusiastically.
The contrast between a strong starting formation and a weakening second row is evident in the German team. In the first half, the well-rehearsed top five scored all 33 points. Pros like Isaac Bonga and Maodo Lo initially struggled to bond with the game. The difference could become even more striking, after all, Justus Hollatz injured his ankle on Saturday. The point guard was unable to get up on his own and was supported into the dressing room by two coaches. Hollatz is scheduled to represent Schröder. There were initially no details on the severity of the injury.
Replacing the 29-year-old Toronto Raptors pro is likely to be more complicated than ever. The undisputed leading player pulls the game more and more into his own hands and provides his teammates Theis and Johannes Voigtmann with precise passes, which they only have to convert with a dunk. During the preparations, Schröder gives the impression that he can seamlessly continue his excellent EM last year at the World Cup. The elite ensemble from the NBA is waiting on Sunday.