Germany's basketball players are facing their biggest game since the end of the era of superstar Dirk Nowitzki: In the quarterfinals of the European Championship, the DBB team meets Greece as outsiders around NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. If you win, you still have a chance of winning your first medal since 2005.
Germany's national basketball team is fighting for the greatest success after the end of the era of superstar Dirk Nowitzki: With a win on Tuesday against Greece (8.30 p.m. / live on RTL and in the live ticker on ntv.de), the team around leader Dennis Schröder made it to the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 2005 European Championship. But the hurdle could hardly be higher: Giannis Antetokounmpo is an exceptional phenomenon with incredible athletic and physical conditions in the squad of the co-favorite for the tournament victory.
The two-time MVP of the NBA, the best league in the world, also inspires the greatest respect among the top decision-makers in German basketball: "He's Giannis Antetokounmpo. He's one of the best players in the world. He has a winning mentality, which he knows about years in the NBA. It's going to be a challenge for me," said DBB leader Dennis Schröder of the professional nicknamed "The Greek Freak." "We demand the best teams and the best players in the world. It's about controlling Giannis. I just don't know how yet," added head coach Gordon Herbert with a smug grin.
The game will be commented on by Frank Buschmann, who enjoys cult status and is now returning to his old place of work eleven years after leaving the national basketball team. At the time, he justified his departure by saying that he was too much a fan of the boys. "I wrote on Sunday, it was a bit itchy playing against the Lithuanians," he said in a Twitter video. "Guys, I'm looking forward to seeing you. It's a basketball festival!"
After the first games of the tournament, the President of the German Basketball Federation, Ingo Weiss, criticized the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF for not showing the German games live. The broadcasters rejected the criticism. "I'm very happy that RTL is broadcasting our quarter-finals live, giving the general public the opportunity to be there," said Weiss. "At the same time, I would like to thank our media partner Magenta Sport for making this broadcast possible. Basketball with the national team on free-to-air television at prime time: that's what we wanted and now we're hoping for a great quarterfinals in the EuroBasket Arena in Berlin."
Despite the enormous task, the German camp is optimistic: "We don't think our journey is over," said the confident Herbert. Even in 2005, the semi-finals of the European Championships were not over: 74:73 the DBB team defeated Spain, an outstanding Dirk Nowitzki decided the game four seconds before the end with his points 26 and 27. This time, too, Spain could be the opponent in a possible semi-final be. In the 2005 final, however, the German team had no chance: 62:78 was the score at the end of the last really successful tournament for the national basketball team - against Greece.
"If you want to achieve something, you have to win against the best teams. It will be a great challenge, we take it with pride," Dennis Schröder gave a final look at the duel that was the bottleneck on the way to a really big triumph - because the possible semi-final opponents Spain and Finland are unbeatable for the German team after their strong impressions at this European Championship. The big favorite Serbia is no longer in the tournament after a surprising defeat against Italy. The last international title so far was won by a DBB selection in 1993 - at a European championship in their own country.