The glorious horizons of German basketball
Coach Herbert’s men met their fate.
Gladwell’s theory is that if you spend 10,000 hours on a task, no matter what it is, you can be successful. Well, it is likely that the German national team used this theory to win the 2023 Basketball World Cup. Qualifying for the tournament was never in question with 15 wins in 18 games beforehand. The problems were not on the pitch, but apparently off the floor: Schröder’s attacks on his teammate Kleber, who had not taken part in the European Championships for trivial reasons, indicated a turmoil in the dressing room.
The 2022 European Championships had left a legacy of bronze with a bitter aftertaste, because it was played at home and because the national team was ready for a continental triumph. The lack of qualification for the Olympics since 2008 marked an important goal. The post-Nowitzki rebirth could be considered almost over.
The team sets off on a Philippine adventure with four NBA players (the two Wagners, Schröder and Theis) and decides to eliminate Kleber in order to keep the Toronto Raptors at point guard. Pleiß is missing due to injury and the historic captain Benzing, who never had a good feeling with coach Herbert. The others are mid-range players from the Euroleague. One for all, all for one: the style is Germanic. The first ring of what will be sounds in a friendly against the USA on August 21st. Everyone remains enchanted by the 99 points of the Stars and Stripes national team, few notice the great performance of the Germans, who dominated in the third period with +16.
Think of the usual US show: you let the opponent run away, catch up with him and then sprint him into a sprint. Nothing could be worse.
But some insiders, more observant than most of their colleagues, recognize the potential of a great Germany and the true nature of the US team: without ideas and without heart, a team that thrives on personal talent and spontaneous outbursts; the exact opposite of the German national team. The World Cup starts on August 25th. Germany finished 3rd out of 3 in a group where Australia were the big favorites, grabs the pass as before and goes into the second phase as the top seed. They allow themselves the luxury of beating Doncic’s Slovenia and Georgia and entering the final phase undefeated. Along with Lithuania, it is the only team to eliminate the US team, showing that a European team with good 3-point percentages and rebounding physicality can beat the NBA stars.
Meanwhile, the big basketball teams are being overtaken by the small ones: France, Spain and Greece have to leave the competition early. Australia follows closely behind.
Germany seems to be a perfect idyll. During the game against Slovenia, Schröder first got into an argument with Theis and then with his coach. Although they win a difficult match, word of a crisis spreads throughout the locker room, with sparks flying as if they were triples on the sidelines. Victory over Georgia is easy, but it does not seem to bring peace.
But it happens every now and then: luck comes to the aid of the brave.
In the most difficult moment against Latvia, the absolute revelation of the tournament, when Schröder shot horribly from the field at a total of 3 of 22, Herbert brought him back onto the field at the exact moment when Latvia closed an 11-point gap in the fourth Third, which turned the game in his favor. The point guard plays out the last possessions, always goes to the limit, attacks penetratingly and manages to build the last lead, which almost miraculously withstands the last blow of the Latvians, with the last Baltic attempt failing at the edge. Germany could meet its fate Preparing the challenge against the USA, which disintegrated Italy.
The game against the Americans is the highlight of the tournament. The German national team has the upper hand and is given no chance by all bookmakers. Then fortunately there is still the field to reveal the true values. The US and Germany are competing to see who can do more, and the Germans can expect nothing less. 31 to 33 in the first quarter for them. It continues at a crazy pace up to +11. Then the US wakes up and recovers. But as in the past, the United States is finding it difficult to cooperate. The Americans feel the pressure and with very poor play on the last few possessions, they leave the victory to Herbert’s men. Giant slaying and first world final for them.
Germany confirmed itself as a real team against Serbia and writes one of the most important pages in the history of FIBA. The star of the final is Wagner, while the MVP of the tournament is Schröder (who else?!).
“I’ll recover in a few days. “This is the second best thing in my life after the birth of my children,” coach Herbert cried after the victory in the final
While the basketball players are hoisting the trophy they deserve, Japan’s national soccer team is being humiliated and the crisis in German soccer is finally being sanctioned. If someone had dared to try such a scenario a few years ago, would you have believed it?