Basketball EM: In the end, Germany forgives the lead – sport


National coach Gordon Herbert shuffled heavily to Sergio Scariolo and shook hands with his Spanish colleague, the winner. It didn’t help. Because despite another impressive performance by the German basketball players, the world champion was too ripped off in a nerve-wracking final phase and, after a 96:91 win, he deservedly made it into the final of the European Championships against the French. The selection of the German basketball Bunds (DBB) left the fight for the title with their heads held high and can win bronze on Sunday in the game for third place against Poland (Sunday 5.15 p.m., live ticker SZ.de).

The Spaniards had entered the field with an impressive record, having reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last 11 European Championship tournaments and won the title three times (2009, 2011, 2015). However, all successes, including the 2019 World Cup triumph, fell into the era of the so-called golden generation. However, only one player remained, the 37-year-old Rudy Fernandez – and the successful Italian coach Scariolo, who is now experiencing another final run. “We should have been more physical in the last quarter,” said Germany’s captain Dennis Schroeder. The fact that this did not happen was also due to the strong opponent.

The new Spanish squad is similar to the German one, both teams have three NBA players on their team each, but no standout player for which the game is tailored. As expected, it was playmaker Lorenzo Brown and Willy Hernangomez on the Spanish side who shaped the offensive game – and their selection led to a nine-point lead (32:41). But then the German selection remembered their defining characteristic – the defense grabbed. First and foremost, Nick Weiler-Babb and Johannes Thiemann threw themselves after every ball, which always has a positive effect on the offensive in basketball: Suddenly Andreas Obst’s three-pointers fell, and Schröder’s outstanding goal (30 points) hit him from all angles anyway.

In this phase, the Germans, who had previously seemed somewhat reserved, continued the outstanding performance from the quarter-finals against Greece – and the sparks immediately jumped over to the 14,073 spectators in the sold-out arena. With a 14:0 run, the DBB team turned things around and went into the dressing room with a 51:46 lead.

But even after the change, the Spaniards found their rhythm faster and took the lead back (61:57). Even if the tireless Weiler-Babb and Thiemann didn’t stop giving the decisive impetus with their poisonous defensive play. And again, that carried over to offense, especially Franz Wagner now collect points. And again Schröder met from all positions. Before the last quarter, the hosts were ahead again (71:65), the game remained high quality, intense and exciting.

Because the Spaniards continued to hold out at a high level – and coach Scariolo ordered Juancho Hernangomez onto the field with his brother Willy, both of whom play in the NBA. From then on he stood defensively like a rock and scored important points (11). This time the Germans could no longer counter.

The opponent in the bronze medal match is now Poland, which lost 54:95 to Olympic bronze medalists France in a completely one-sided game. One had to wonder how this Polish team could have knocked out defending champions Slovenia around Luka Doncic in the quarterfinals. France coach Vincent Collet could even afford to rest key players. Which may benefit his team in the final, because the German team demanded everything from the Iberians.



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