Basketball EM: A little joy at Schröder after the drama - sport

"It was already clear to me that this was coming." Franz Wagner replied pointedly when asked whether the Spaniards were more ripped off than the German team. "We lost, it's hurting right now. Everyone can decide for themselves whether it was because of that." The disappointment was not only huge for Wagner, who knew how to convince again and collected 15 points. Despite the 91:96 defeat in the semi-finals of the European Basketball Championship against Spain, the German national team once again showed a convincing performance in Berlin. "We could have won," said Captain Dennis Schröder rightly, at the beginning of the last quarter it looked like the European Championship host was 77:72 points ahead.

In a game that was balanced and marked by runs: Mal scored the German's selection basketball Bunds (DBB) 14 points in a row, sometimes Spain countered with a double-digit run. But then Spain's Italian coach Sergio Scolari changed his defence, had Dennis Schröder placed under special surveillance by his bench player Alberto Diaz and ordered the Hernangomez brothers Willy and Juancho, as well as Usman Garube, to put his three NBA-experienced defense cabinets under the basket. This tactical trick first robbed the German game of its head, then the pace and finally the victory.

Until then, Schröder had been the outstanding player on the field, collecting 30 points and setting the scene for his teammates. Now, however, Diaz rushed after him like a terrier and almost took the German leader out of the game. In the last seven and a half minutes, the German leader didn't manage any significant action, let alone a point. After all, he had something happier to report on his own behalf after the game, Schröder will return to the Los Angeles Lakers in the coming season. There, LeBron James is looking forward to the colleagues who are playing so well at this European Championship, and Schröder is looking forward to $2.64 million.

This team knows how to win", national coach Gordon Herbert has to concede to the Spaniards

As a result, the DBB team's game became more hectic, wrong decisions were made, too early or risky throws were made, or free throws were refused. The Spaniards, on the other hand, took command on the floor with impressive calm and self-confidence, especially playmaker Lorenzo Brown, who was naturalized shortly before the tournament despite some resistance, proved to be the game-changing initiator. He either scored himself, which he did brilliantly with 29 points, or he set the scene for his taller colleagues under the basket - from which Willy (17 points) and Juancho Hernangomez (13) in particular benefited.

"This team knows how to win," stated national coach Gordon Herbert, visibly dismayed after the defeat. In fact, no nation has been in a European Championship semi-final as often as the Spaniards, exactly eleven times in the past eleven tournaments. They are also the current world champion. Colleague Scariolo was satisfied that "we had the peace to make the right decisions in the crucial phases".

Perhaps coach Herbert stuck to his starting line-up for too long in these final minutes, Daniel Theis seemed tired, perhaps Johannes Voigtmann would have been the better option at this stage. Maodo Lo and Andreas Obst, who again had a good three-point quota and scored 15 points, were also on the bench for a long time in this decisive phase. Both of them sunk important threes in the final seconds, but this Spanish team could not be fazed.

In addition to the strong defense, in which Nick Weiler-Babb and Johannes Thiemann earned top marks that evening, the balanced bench in the tournament so far has been a strength of the Germans. On this evening, however, the Spaniards were a bit better in this discipline as well. Not only did Diaz take Schröder out of the game, he also scored in double figures (10). And then there was Spain's indestructible veteran Rudy Fernandez, the only remnant of the golden generation, the team that had defined European basketball for years. The 37-year-old repeatedly tormented the DBB with his distance throws and defended venomously.

Basketball EM: Franz Wagner (right) was badly devastated after the end of the game, while he is playing a very strong EM in Berlin.

Franz Wagner (right) was badly devastated after the end of the game, while playing a very strong European Championship in Berlin.

(Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa)

The German team was ultimately beaten by an opponent who has a similar shape. And who was just that little bit more experienced, even if Wagner didn't want to hear that assessment. "They didn't let themselves be unsettled by some of what happened to us," explained Thiemann, "for us it was also a new situation that we don't have every day, we will definitely learn from it." Spain is just used to such games, and yes, "maybe they were just ripped off".

While the Iberians now meet France in the final, the Germans can look forward to the game for third place on Sunday with their heads held high. "We can learn a lot from this defeat," Wagner added, "it's not over. We still have a game on Sunday." The opponent is Poland, which was humiliated after a desolate performance by the Olympic silver medalist with 54:95 points. There's no reason to underestimate your opponents, as Obst warned: "They're a strong team and they want to win a medal like us."

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