Dark horse of EuroBasket: why Germany is a team to watch

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2022-09-04 10:51

After a surprising start, Germany shows that it has the right tools for an inspiring run at the EuroBasket 2022.

Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Dennis Schroder was excited about the poster he received on his way to the locker room after a consecutive EuroBasket win. "Deutschland, go for Gold," it said.

When a few NBA players couldn't join the co-hosts of EuroBasket 2022, just surpassing the group stage sounded like a realistic goal for many German basketball fans.

But coming off a solid win over the Olympic finalists France, now Germany remains one of the eight unbeaten teams in the tournament.

Maodo Lo

Maodo  Lo
Team: ALBA Berlin
Position: PG
Age: 29
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Birth place: Berlin, Germany

German players are collectively avoiding talking about surprising and making statement wins. But their game speaks for itself.

BasketNews gives a few reasons why Germany is a team to watch and might become a dark horse of the EuroBasket.

Unique star

The German national team has one of the most charismatic stars in the EuroBasket.

Dennis Schroder is so fun to watch. He smiles a lot, connects the packed Lanxess arena, and brings these funny celebrations after spectacular plays.

For example, he stopped and looked at his palm as if he had a superpower after dishing a quick assist followed by Niels Giffey's three-pointer.

Although his long-range shot is off -- he is only 1 of 9 beyond the arc -- Dennis Schroder also brought a lot of quality so far.

He's the top-scorer of his team, averaging 14.5 points and seven assists. A 28-year-old NBA guard sets the tone for his team both on and off the court and is becoming a true general of his group.

"Dennis is exceptional. He is one of the best point guards in Europe. He has crazy abilities, like crazy athleticism and speed. But besides that, he plays with a certain pace and tonus, which is very interesting to observe and also something to learn from," the German guard Maodo Lo said to BasketNews.

"It's tough to play against him in practice every day. It's probably the best competition I will see. It's a challenge, but at the same time, I can learn a lot," the ALBA Berlin guard added.

"One of the biggest things about Dennis is that he never reacts to what the refs are doing. If they make a bad call or a good call, he's always smiling, and he's always having a good time out there. Making sure everybody's involved, making sure everybody's happy," the German national team newcomer Nick Weiler-Babb told BasketNews.

"Just to see him at such a level playing like that and being excited for whatever happens… He is a big person to follow," Bayern Munich floor general added.

Excitement

It's rare to find a team that can match the excitement on and off the court of the Slovenia national team. But the Germans are as close to it as it gets.

It also starts with Schroder, one of the most exciting EuroBasket players to watch. But there is more than that.

Maodo Lo made a spectacular dribble in transition and was cooking with contested three-pointers against France.

Johannes Thiemann became one of the surprises of the tournament (14 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 18.5 EFF), inspiring the crowd with his limitless effort.

Franz Wagner offers a lot of in defense, but his IQ and offensive versatility add a lot of beauty to the Germans' game.

Johannes Voigtmann's and Daniel Theiss' ability to stretch the floor adds a lot of fluidity to their game.

Germans clearly enjoy each other on the court, sharing that excitement with a crowd.

"I think you got to be happy with what you do in life. At the end of the day, we compete and have fun. I think it's the most important to my teammates and me. We always talk about it in the locker room. We're not doing it for 30-40 years. So you got to embrace every moment," Schroder said to BasketNews.

Schroder also revealed that despite getting injured before the EuroBasket, Mo Wagner stays close to the team and helps build a good locker room.

"We're a good group. We have fun with each other. We have a coach who has authority. He can get loud, but as a coach, he is also good with players. It's a good atmosphere," Maodo Lo added.

"We're having joy and fun playing basketball. But at the same time, there's a certain focus and professionalism," the guard concluded.

"We have great team chemistry. Everybody gets along. Everybody's happy for the next guy, whether we score, play defense, or just get stops. Everybody gets super excited for that one through twelve," Nick Weiler-Babb said.

"We have a lot of experienced players that played a couple of summers together. We have players that love to share the ball and not just create for themselves. When you have a lot of smart players that want to do that, a lot of good possessions come out of it. It's a lot of fun to play with them," the Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner admitted. 

Defense

This German team exemplifies how much you can enjoy the defensive team.

On the eve of the EuroBasket, Germany contained Slovenia to 71 points.

The same team averaged more than 100 points per game in the last year's Olympic games.

France barely managed to score 63 points in the EuroBasket opener. Vincent Collet's squad averaged 86 in Tokyo and was in the top 4.

Germans are aggressive, physical and don't want to let you breathe on the offensive end.

Such a defensively versatile frontcourt with Daniel Theiss, Wagner's ability to defend five positions, and strong backcourt guards, including defensive ace Nick Weiler-Babb, and the transition game makes the Germans a very uncomfortable opponent.

"The defensive abilities that we have as players and the willingness to defend," Lo said to BasketNews when asked what makes them a great defensive team.

"The defense is something which can win us games. And everyone is willing to buy it and play as a team defensively. It's all about the mindset," he added.

"We're doing everything together. Just the identity on the defensive end, bringing that pressure, the physicality and toughness doing it as a team. That's what the coach talked about on the first day of the training camp. We're embracing that role and want to keep improving," Schroder said.

Deutschland for gold?

EuroBasket group in Cologne was also known as a group of death months before the competition started.

But with German NBA players one by one announcing their unavailability for the national team, the conversation mainly included three teams: Slovenia, France, and Lithuania.

However, the Germans are on the pace of fighting for first place in group B.

FIBA competitions are unique. The most talented team not necessarily wins it all. Usually, quite the opposite.

It's all about creating chemistry quickly, peaking at the two-week tournament, and enjoying the process. So far, Germans have all of that.

"I think we're just very versatile. Anybody can step up at any given moment. Anybody on the team can make shots. Anybody can play defense one through five. I think it just comes down to everybody being excited, willing to play their role, and everybody's going to maximize their role no matter what it is," Weiler-Babb said to BasketNews.

So, does Deutschland go for gold?

"People can say whatever. We know what we're capable of. We just play game by game. We don't need any rumors, people to say we can win four games in this group or whatever. We just try to come and compete on the highest level, and we'll see what happens," Schroder says.



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