It's a perfect basketball day: Dirk Nowitzki is honored before the German national team kicks off the European Championship at home, then Dennis Schröder and Co. follow up furiously. The DBB team played very well against the Olympic silver medalist France - and made you want more in the tournament.
The medal dream is alive! After the ceremony for legend Dirk Nowitzki, the German basketball players started the home European Championship with an inspiring victory. In front of 18,000 fans, a national team led by Captain Dennis Schröder, who played like unleashed, beat title candidate France impressively in Cologne with 76:63 (38:31) and took the first very important step towards the final round in the hunt for precious metal.
"Above all, the defense was the key. No matter who was on the field, we defended hard," said center Daniel Theis after the game at "Magentasport". "We can only win as a team. Of course that gives a boost, but we can't buy anything for one win," said Theis. "We went onto the floor without fear and worked hard," praised coach Gordon Herbert.
Johannes Thiemann shone in a rousing team performance as the best German shooter with 14 points, Guerschon Yabusele scored 18 points for the French. The Germans got off to a perfect start in "hammer group" B thanks to the victory. Four teams advance to the round of 16, with the final round taking place in Berlin. After gold in 1993 and silver in 2005, national coach Gordon Herbert had given his goal as a medal.
Exactly three years to the day after the start against France at the disappointing 2019 World Cup in China, where it had lost, Herbert surprised. Daniel Theis, who was only given the last place in the squad on Wednesday due to knee problems, initially sat on the bench - but not for long. After an unsportsmanlike foul by Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann and only 1:02 minutes played, the Indiana Pacers center had to play immediately.
But four days after the surprisingly clear victory in the World Cup qualifier against the European Championship group opponents Slovenia, the nervousness of the Germans was noticeable. The first five throws from the field against next to it, but the hosts worked their way into the game through the strong defense. While the French offense didn't get going, Germany scored steadily. Schröder shone with fast drives and the naturalized US American Nick-Weiler Babb provided the half-time lead with a three-pointer.
"We defended very well and took a lot of things away from them," said Big Man Johannes Thiemann at half-time at MagentaSport. After the break, France, who scored much better from outside at this stage, came back with an 8-0 run - but then Germany really turned up the heat. Maodo Lo took command: The Berliner hung up, hit the step-back three and laid up. When Schröder outdid NBA star Rudy Gobert in the final quarter and finished 71:57, the audience was finally able to celebrate.
After a rest day, the German team has two games on the program this weekend. On Saturday against Bosnia and Herzegovina and on Sunday against the strong Lithuania (both 2.30 p.m. / MagentaSport) at least one win is needed.