There is no sign of nervousness among the german basketball players ahead of the first match balls in the world championship qualifiers.
"Now come the two games that make the figures. We can go into this with a broad chest," says NBA pro maximilian kleber: "we want to get two wins, of course."With take place on thursday (18.00 a.M.) in estonia and three days later in leipzig against israel (6 p.M.).00 a.M.) the team has won a ticket to the 2019 world championships in china ahead of schedule. For the generation filled with outstanding talents it should be an intermediate step on the way to the olympic games.
"The goal of everyone here is tokyo 2020. That’s where we all want to be," said NBA young star dennis schroder. The german basketball association (DBB) team has missed the olympics twice, and at the 2014 world championships in spain it was only a spectator. But a lot has happened in the last few years. After last year’s quarterfinal exit from the european championship, national coach henrik rodl took over and led the team to six victories in six world cup qualifiers. Even vice world champions and olympic runners-up serbia were defeated twice.
After this flawless record, despite two test match defeats last weekend at the supercup in hamburg against the top teams turkey and italy, there has recently been a lot of talk about the team’s rough potential. "We have one of the best teams germany has ever had," said kleber, who is dirk nowitzki’s teammate at the dallas mavericks, but at the same time he warned: "just talking is not enough, we still have to prove it. It’s a long way for us."In estonia, as in the supercup, captain robin benzing will be absent, who is still with his new club besiktas istanbul.
24-year-old schroder (oklahoma city thunder) is the undisputed leader, and kleber (26) is another professional from the world’s strongest league who will be playing this summer. Daniel theis (26/boston celtics) is injured, moritz wagner (21) and isaac bonga (18/both los angeles lakers) as well as isaiah hartenstein (20/houston rockets) are missing due to commitments in the nba. They were all available in the future, as was the injured paul zipser (24), who last played for the chicago bulls for two years. Never have there been more players from the best league in the world in the national team.
Schroder also speaks of "a great deal of talent" and says: "we can achieve a great deal."To do that, we first have to defeat the unpleasant club leader estonia. "We have already worked a lot tactically on estonia," said rodl. The baltic states, however, are by far not as strong as turkey or italy in the preparation. "It’s always super hard away from home," said rodl about the opponent, who "traditionally plays fast and throws well".
DBB selection showed itself to be too dependent on schroder in the previous week. While the quick-as-an-arrow set-up man shone with his overview and offensive strength, his teammates sometimes found it difficult to find their rhythm. "We have to take a step forward as a collective," said rodl. Spanish legionnaires johannes voigtmann and andreas obst, who joined the team on tuesday in tallinn, are also expected to help in the process.
Schroder called for more self-confidence, especially offensively, "so that we can win the game". Even if this unexpectedly fails, the sixth world championship participation for the DBB is not yet in danger. There will be four more qualifying matches in group L between now and february. From the total of six encounters in the second phase, two victories are already enough after the strong preliminary performances.