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4 Maodo LO (Germany)
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Lo, Mason get chance to shine with Germany as Schroder pulls out

WURZBURG (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers) - Germany star Dennis Schroder and the German Basketball Federation (DBB) have issued a joint statement announcing that the point guard will not take part in the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers which tip off on 31 August, in a development that could mark the international career of youngsters Maodo Lo and Makai Mason.

The Atlanta Hawks are to convert the 22-year-old Schroder into a centrepiece of their future project by handing him the starting point guard spot in the upcoming season, after allowing former NBA All-Star Jeff Teague to depart for the Indiana Pacers. Faced with this responsibility, Schroder has decided to return to the USA already in order to 'prepare for the most important season of his career', according to the DBB statement.

"I will keep my fingers crossed during the Qualifiers and I look forward to seeing you all again at FIBA EuroBasket 2017." - Schroder

"We support Dennis a hundred percent," said DBB vice-president Armin Andres. "It is a very special situation for Dennis, which can be crucial for his entire career. He is scheduled to enter the starting line-up in Atlanta and he is needed there to undergo intensive and early training with the Hawks. He has our full understanding."

While Schroder was initially poised to lead Germany's summer bid for a berth in next year's big event and head coach Chris Fleming will have to modify his plans somewhat, the DBB believe this development could prove beneficial to both the player and German basketball in the mid- and long-term.

"All this does not change my commitment to the German national team," said Schroder. "It's still very important to me, with the 2020 Olympic Games remaining as the utter goal in the whole process. I ask from basketball fans in Germany to show understanding to my situation. I will keep my fingers crossed during the Qualifiers and I look forward to seeing you all again at FIBA EuroBasket 2017."

Schroder's decision came only a few days after the DBB announced that fellow point guard Konstantin Klein and shooting guard Anton Gavel, who can play at the '1' spot, have also pulled out of this qualifying campaign for personal reasons. Meanwhile former captain Heiko Schaffartzik had asked early on to not be included on the preliminary squad, so Maodo Lo looks destined to carry the heaviest load at the point guard position for Germany this summer.

The 23-year-old Lo made his national team debut at FIBA EuroBasket 2015 and averaged 4.6 points and 1.4 assists per game, playing behind Schroder and Schaffartzik. Lo dazzled the crowd in Berlin during the crucial clash with eventual champions Spain, as he came off the bench and poured in 14 points to help Germany take the game to the final second. He has just signed his first professional contract and will join German champions Brose Baskets Bamberg in September, following a highly-successful career at Columbia University.

Another point guard who's turned heads in the NCAA, Makai Mason of Yale University, has been invited by coach Fleming to join training camp and arrived in Germany last week to fight for a spot on the national team. The 20-year-old Mason, who has never suited up for Germany so far, averaged 16 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in the NCAA's Ivy League during his sophomore year.

The DBB have meanwhile announced that both winger Lucca Staiger and power forward Maxi Kleiber have also had to pull out of the preliminary squad, due to injury woes. Germany were drawn in Group B of the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers, together with Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands.