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Schroder trusts team, stresses importance of Germany finishing first in Qualifiers
OKLAHOMA CITY (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Germany enter the next window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers with a huge showdown in Greece to give one team the inside track for first place in Group L. Germany star Dennis Schroder may not be able to play but he trusts the team and stressed the importance of taking the top spot in the group.
Germany and Greece have both already qualified for China 2019 with perfect 8-0 records. But one team will leave the NSC Demetrios Tofalos arena in Patras on November 30 in sole possession of first place in the group with three games left to play, including the return game between the countries in their final game on February 24, 2019 in Germany.
“IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO WRAP UP THE QUALIFIERS WITH THE BEST RECORD POSSIBLE, AND IF POSSIBLE FINISH ON TOP OF THE GROUP WITH ONLY WINS.”
"The guys are going to play against Greece at the end of the month, and it is going to be a great test for the team. Winning there won't be easy, as they have a very good team and a great crowd, but I am sure the guys are going to play at their best level to get that win," said Schroder who starred in helping Germany grab four victories this summer by averaging 23.5 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals and locking up the country's first World Cup spot since 2010.
Germany already own two victories over Serbia in the European Qualifiers, and the 25-year-old Schroder believes games like the ones against the 2014 World Cup runners-up Serbia and against Greece will only help the up-and-coming Germany side.
"You know, you learn all the time, but when you compete against the best, you learn faster," he said. "I think that it is good for our own confidence that we know that we can fight for the top of the group against teams who have so much competitiveness and had so many good years at the highest level lately."
Germany have already booked their ticket to next summer’s global showcase, but teams will be seeded for the tournament’s draw according to their placement in the Qualifiers. That makes the final four Group L games all that more important.
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"It's very important to wrap up the qualifiers with the best record possible, and if possible finish on top of the group with only wins. I think it is possible and the guys can achieve so much for the next windows coming up," Schroder said. "I trust the guys and their talent to finish the qualifying campaign the best way, and I am going to show them support despite not being able to compete until the end of the qualifying campaign."
Schroder stressed the ever-growing depth of the German national team program and how that will help in the final two windows.
"Our pool of player is pretty deep, and many guys can step up their game in order to help the young or less experienced players. I think the guys can make it," he said. "All the games left are also very good to give some playing time to young guys too, and work on the chemistry for next summer."
Schroder is getting accustomed to his new team in the NBA after moving from the Atlanta Hawks to the Oklahoma City Thunder over the off-season. But the 6ft 2in (1.88m) playmaker loves the chances he has getting back to the Germany national team.
"It's always very important for me to come play for the national team. I always loved to do so, as I am very proud to be from Germany. But also it is normal for me to wear the national team jersey, represent my country and be with my teammates every time I can do so. I love it, and I am looking forward for the years to come," he said. "Basketball is growing a lot in Germany and I know that I am one of the flag bearers, so I am also trying to help put our basketball and our national team among the best teams of the world. That is my mission, and we all share that mission in the national team, from the staff to the players, and to the fans and the national federation. I am excited for our future."
“OUR POOL OF PLAYERS IS PRETTY DEEP, AND MANY GUYS CAN STEP UP THEIR GAME IN ORDER TO HELP THE YOUNG OR LESS EXPERIENCED PLAYERS.”
Schroder is excited about playing his third major tournament and first global one after two FIBA EuroBaskets. But he thinks Germany can do some damage next summer in China.
"I think we can be a pretty tough team to beat. We will go to China with ambitions and we aren't afraid of trying to have a good run next summer at the FIBA World Cup," he said. "We aren’t going to China for fun, we are going there to compete against the best teams and players of the world. It’s going to be great, and we are all excited to be there and play at our highest level representing Germany."
Germany's second game in the next window has them hosting Estonia on December 3 in Ludwigsburg.