German basketball players in the EM semi-finals: a title contender from now on - sport

No, he wouldn't take the trainer's credit card to go around the house with it, said Franz Wagner with a grin, "I'd stay in the hotel room anyway and drink apple juice". Team captain Dennis Schröder asked for the card after this fabulous evening in the Berlin Arena, explained Gordon Herbert, but he told him that after three divorces he would not agree with the limit anyway.

It has not often happened at this European Championship that the national coach joked around, but after that game on late Tuesday evening even the otherwise sober Canadian started to joke. The German national team had just knocked out a big favorite in the quarterfinals in Greece after an inspiring performance with an inspiring 107:96 triumph.

Not only national coach Herbert let his feelings run free for a moment, previously 14073 euphoric spectators had transformed the Berlin Arena, which was sold out for the first time, into a jubilant house. The selection of the German basketball Bunds (DBB) gave them the next highlight in this exceptional tournament. The Germans are in the semifinals against Spain on Friday (8.30 p.m.) - and have presented themselves as serious contenders for the title.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is considered the most complete basketball player in the world, he failed at the German collective

Because the Greeks, as the only undefeated team up to that point, were the clear favorites and ultimately had to acknowledge the superiority of the hosts. What their coach Dimitrios Itoudis achieved with remarkable sportsmanship: "They deserved this win, they threw extremely well, we had problems with their energy, they were simply the better team."

Basketball European Championship: Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre), perhaps the most complete basketball player in the world, is stopped by Daniel Theis (left) in this action.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre), perhaps the most complete basketball player in the world, is stopped by Daniel Theis (left) in this action.

(Photo: Annegret Hilse/reuters)

Of course, with this opponent you have to talk about a player who is considered by many to be the most complete basketball player in the world: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Despite his height of 2.11 meters, he impresses with his ball control and athleticism, is agile and fast at the same time; It is not for nothing that he has already been voted the NBA's most valuable player twice. But that evening he found his master in the German collective, which had recognized that such a player can only be slowed down together.

"He's quite the edge," admitted co-captain Johannes Voigtmann: "He's also great at moving, stopping him is a tough task." What the German defense team did so well, especially in the second half, that Antetokounmpo only managed to get around twice with an unsportsmanlike foul and was disqualified five minutes before the end.

In the first half he showed what he was capable of, scoring 19 of his final 31 points and leading Greece to a 61:57 lead. After the break, however, the German players increased their already high level of energy, especially in defence, the rebound game was again style-defining and therefore "the key to victory", as Johannes Thiemann later stated. The offensive had worked brilliantly before the break, especially the shot odds were better than ever before in the tournament.

Franz Wagner's ankle holds, his first throw sits right away

When talking about this game, Antetokounmpo will only play a supporting role in retrospect. Then you have to talk about Dennis Schröder, Franz Wagner, Andreas Obst, Daniel Theis and Thiemann. The captain found his shot from distance just in time to be on the safe side, in a one-on-one duel Schröder is difficult to hold anyway. He set the pace, was the top scorer with 26 points and provided eight assists, all first-class values.

Basketball EM: The ankle holds, the throw sits: Franz Wagner.

The ankle holds, the throw sits: Franz Wagner.

(Photo: Tilo Wiedensoler/camera4+/Imago)

In the case of Wagner, it wasn't even clear whether he could play at all, as is well known, he twisted his ankle in the round of 16 against Montenegro. The ankle held, his first throw was right away, the 21-year-old was once again the most effective player in the DBB selection. Andreas Obst, who only had a few minutes to play in the first game, has become indispensable as a long-range shooter, he circled five of seven three-pointers, also a top value. Daniel Theis toiled under the baskets, fought tough duels with Antetokounmpo and also scored double digits (13). This also applied to Thiemann (10), or Voigtmann, who with their physical play brought the highly praised Greek attack to a standstill in the third quarter and won it 26:10.

The individual class in the team is great, but some competitors can keep up. But what makes this team special is its team spirit, the cohesion, everyone is at the service of the collective. Nick Weiler-Babb played despite his shoulder injury, Voigtmann came on the floor stricken with a cold, all in all "that says a lot about this team", the coach proudly stated. And she gets more self-confidence from success to success: "We go into every game and believe that we can win," explained Voigtmann.

What was happening was "incredible for German basketball," Herbert rightly said, "the way this team and the players perform and play on their home soil, people can identify with that. We came out of the dressing room and were on a mission ." In fact, public interest is growing from success to success, the quarter-finals were broadcast in addition to Magentasport, the pay-TV broadcaster streams all German games free of charge, without further ado by RTL on free TV, with an enthusiastic Dirk Nowitzki as an expert - what you actually should expect from the public broadcasters.

So now the world champion, whom the German team meets at eye level in this form. Players and coaches are still trying to "stay in the moment", as Andreas Obst said with a serious expression: "That was outstanding, you have to realize that first. But I think we're not where we want to be yet. " The already high level of self-confidence "received another boost". And Herbert? "We need to improve in defence, it wasn't good in the first half." He too was in the moment again. But he'll treat himself to a "cold beer," he said before he disappeared into the night. The credit card will certainly give that.

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