The German national basketball team longs for the home EM, in exactly one week it starts. But coach Gordon Herbert is still giving his squad a headache. Important players are already missing, and now NBA star Dennis Schröder is injured.
Dennis Schröder's seat remained empty on the plane to Stockholm. And it is still an open question whether the ailing director will be able to come up with the qualifier for the 2023 World Cup in Sweden exactly one week before the start of the European Championship at home with the German basketball players. Personnel problems overshadow the preparation for the highlight.
At least with a view to the European Basketball Championship, the playmaker gave the all-clear ("I won't miss it") after twisting his ankle at the Supercup in Hamburg on Friday. However, he initially decided not to travel to the competitive game in the Hovet due to ankle problems - his use is not (yet) completely ruled out.
After the moment of shock, Dirk Nowitzki emphasized how important the NBA-experienced point guard is for the selection of the German Basketball Federation (DBB). "Dennis Schröder has to play a top European Championship," said German basketball idol Sport1, "and carry us forward."
A failure of the key player could hardly be compensated for, also because others have already been hit. For example, NBA professionals Maximilian Kleber from the Dallas Mavericks and Moritz Wagner, who plays for Orlando Magic, as well as EuroLeague champion Tibor Pleiss, who won the title with Anadolu Istanbul, are missing. "Our absolute strength was that we have such a deep cast," said Nowitzki. The fact that the trio is missing from the team is "a bit of a shame".
National coach Gordon Herbert has even more construction sites. Daniel Theis from the Indiana Pacers is out for the time being because of knee problems, and the Canadian has to learn a lesson after the nasty smack in the Supercup final against Serbia (56:83). "We have two days to put some things in order," said Herbert in Stockholm: "We will look back on offensive content and prepare certain defensive content."
Herbert has to do a balancing act in the final preparation phase. On the one hand, it's about developing form, since after the Sweden game (Thursday, 6.30 p.m. / MagentaSport) there is only the dress rehearsal against European champions Slovenia on Sunday in Munich. On the other hand, there are two World Cup qualifiers - the results have to be right.
"We are concentrating fully on the game against Sweden. Because our first goal is to qualify for the World Cup next year as quickly as possible," said Herbert, "it will be a real challenge for us." The encounter marks the start of the second qualifying phase for the World Cup in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Germany leads the new group of six after a near-perfect first round ahead of Finland (both 11 points) and Slovenia (10), Sweden (5) is fifth. Three teams get a ticket.
A win would be important, also for the self-confidence that suffered in the lesson against European Championship title candidate Serbia for NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. Schröder was already injured in the setback. The question remains when he will return.
"We have to deal with the turbulent preparation and the difficult personal situation," said guard Andreas Obst. It is important to act as a team. "Especially in front of their home crowd, the Swedes are very dangerous."