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Landwehr, Germany motivated to show they can win gold again
Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) - Germany began the defense of their title in style on the opening day with Magdalena Landwehr confident the team can go all the way again.
A convincing start saw the 2018 champions ease to a 75-48 victory over Croatia to round out Day 1 with tougher tests against Italy and Belgium to come in the group phase.
"It felt really good," declared Landwehr. "We were nervous as it was the first game, but we were ready to go out and kill them early on the court.
"The first half was really good, we are proud of how we played and have to continue that."
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Landwehr was part of the title-winning roster in Udine 12 months ago as Germany prevailed against Spain in the Final, and will have a bigger role to play this time around.
The 18-year-old fired in 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting in Saturday's victory and also collected eight rebounds with her side knocking down 11 of their 25 attempts from three-point range.
"It felt really good for me and I’m happy to have a good start in this tournament.
"I'm definitely looking forward to keeping it going. Last year I didn't play much, but it helped me mentally and throughout the season.
"I have been really looking forward to the [FIBA U19 Women's Basketball] World Cup and being here.
"It has motivated me in practice and our preparation. I'm proud of my development over the last year and feel I've got a lot better at shooting and other things."
And, the forward feels as though the team has arrived in Sarajevo with a target on their backs as they step up to the challenge of repeating.
"I think some teams are scared of us," she said. "Everyone wants to beat us and I love that - it hypes you as a player. Everyone is so motivated to show that this group can win gold again. Our goal is to play in the top eight and then see where we are from there."
One major positive for Germany is the star potential of Emily Bessoir. The talented forward dropped an early tournament-high of 22 points against Croatia along with 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks with Landwehr heaping praise on her teammate.
"Emily helps us on the court and off the court so much so we are really happy to play with her,” she enthused.
"She can score, she can block, she can do everything - it's nice to have a teammate like this. Especially the younger players, they are getting the experience of playing with her and this helps a lot."
Tougher tests are to come among a strong field in the Bosnian capital and the action picks up with the conclusion of the group phase on Monday before all teams head onto the Round of 16. Germany have a strong start to build on and the challenge comes in continuing to move in the right direction.
"We have to play like we did in the first half for the whole game,” Landwehr concluded. "We have to be more focused after half-time as we know the games will get harder.
"We want to get better and better from game to game and know we have a lot of room to improve."