Podium no longer just a dream: Germany aiming for gold
BERLIN (Germany) - The elation on the faces of Germany's players after their historic victory over Greece to reach the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Semi-Finals could not be hidden. At the same time, they were quick to proclaim that the ride is not over yet, and they still have bigger goals to achieve.
Germany advanced to their first EuroBasket Semi-Finals since 2005 with an exhilarating 107-96 win to set up a date with Spain - and put them one victory from the country's third European medal following the title in 1993 and second place in 2005.
"The medal was the goal before we started. We're going to enjoy the moment and then prepare for Spain on Friday, but we want the gold medal," said Daniel Theis, who played a major role in the win with 13 points and 16 rebounds as well as working hard defensively to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo.
German head coach Gordie Herbert told reporters after the game that he was looking forward to a cold beer to enjoy this moment and he would not be thinking about his next opponent until Wednesday. And he knew his team would also find their own ways to celebrate the win.
"I know one thing: I'm not giving my credit card to the players," the coach said, a reference to how Italy and coach Gianmarco Pozzecco marked their upset over Serbia. "Dennis (Schroder) wanted my credit card. I said: 'I've been divorced three times, you're not gonna like the limit on it.'"
The celebrations were well deserved for a team that knows and understands its quality however are not surprised to be standing on the doorsteps of something major.
"We knew from the beginning that we could do it, that we had the quality and we played with confidence even back in Cologne. We knew it wouldn't be an easy journey, but we did our job and we deserve this," said Andi Obst, who drained five three-pointers in pouring in 19 points against Greece.
"We can definitely hold our own among the top in Europe. I would say it's not a surprise, though we had to perform on the court. We took the first step last year, this year we took the next step. But we are not done yet."
"I SAID RIGHT FROM THE GET-GO IN OCTOBER MY GOAL IS TO WIN A MEDAL AT EUROBASKET. PEOPLE LOOKED AT ME AND THOUGHT I WAS A LITTLE CRAZY BACK THEN."
With last year Obst was referring to Germany surprising many by winning the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Croatia to reach the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Herbert, who took over the coaching reigns after the Olympics, said his players deserve the highest of praise.
"This is unbelievable for German basketball: the way this team, the way these players have performed on their home soil up to now. The way we've played, people can relate to. They see an identity. The identity is something we set out to establish right away," said Herbert, who guided Germany to a 7-1 record in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers. "I said right from the get-go in October my goal is to win a medal at EuroBasket. People looked at me and thought I was a little bit crazy back then. (laughs). But it's still what we're looking for."
Besides a medal, Herbert and his players also have the bigger picture goal of helping grow the sport in Germany.
"Hopefully we can get close to that: kids growing up in Germany and wanting to play basketball," said Franz Wagner, who came back from an ankle injury in the Round of 16 and scored 19 points against Greece with five three-pointers against Greece. "Obviously soccer is very popular but I think a lot of people like to watch basketball and only through tournaments like this you can see how much fun basketball is. You can bring it to your country a little bit more. … Hopefully we can start something."
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Schroder, who was named TCL Player of the Game for his outing of 26 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds, gave the same big picture analysis.
"I hope that basketball can rise up some more in Germany. What we have done this summer - the team, the whole federation - we are doing a lot for German basketball and really representing it in a good manner. And I hope that helps push German basketball," Schroder said.
One thing clear from the team's reaction after the game, Germany would definitely celebrate the win but they would be ready and re-focused and concentrated against Spain for more history to be made.