Meter-high flames shot up from the edge of the field, the German basketball players have never been received so fiercely. But there was also a lot at stake in the round of 16 against Montenegro at this European Championship, which is taking place in Berlin. The hosts immediately accepted the suggestion and played fiercely, but after the German's selection basketball Bunds (DBB) went into the dressing room with an advantage of 48:24 in the first half, not much came together in the second half. In the end it was a deserved 85:79 victory. The quarter-finals have been reached, that was the declared goal. Now it's against the winner of the match between Greece and the Czech Republic, but coach Gordon Herbert didn't want to think that far. "We were sloppy in the second half but we take the win."
So far, his team was a bit nervous at first, but in the first knockout game the players largely avoided making unnecessary mistakes. Dennis Schroeder immediately sunk his first long-distance shot, a discipline that the team captain did not like so far. And the playmaker continued at that level - striking with magic passes, pulling to the basket and dunking the ball through the trap to cheers from the crowd. Schröder played great and was the best German with 22 points.
Maodo Lo didn't want to sit idly by, the Berlin playmaker scored almost flawlessly as usual, pulled to the basket with a lot of energy and also scored in double figures (14). The game seemed to be decided early on because the defense worked in the best way and Johannes Voigtmann, Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann and Johannes Thieman had the strong Montenegrin top scorer Bojan Dubljevic and the NBA center Marko Simonovic under control.
Franz Wagner twists his ankle and stays on the bench. Whether he can continue playing is still open
However, in the second half, the German team slacked off, which didn't look dangerous for a long time, because the lead was 27 points shortly after the break. But the enemy was allowed to fight his way. The less the DBB team managed, the more the balls flew around their ears, the better the opponent's throws: Dubljevic increased his tally to 22 points. Playmaker Kendrick Perry, who couldn't be seen in the first half, attacked the Germans with five threes, was the best player of the game with 25 points and led his team up to 77:80 - there were still 25 seconds to play. But Schröder and Lo brought victory with their free throws.
In this phase, Franz Wagner was sorely missed in addition to the injured defense specialist Nick Weiler-Babb, who will probably return for the quarter-finals on Tuesday. Wagner is a player who brings relief in phases like this, but the 21-year-old twisted his ankle just before the end of the third quarter and was no longer able to play. By then he had scored 14 points. An MRI examination in the evening will show how things will continue, explained coach Herbert.
"Perhaps we were too casual," said Thiemann afterwards, now he was just happy to have two days off and to relax. In the quarter-finals, the winner of the game between Greece and the Czech Republic is waiting, so you have to improve, the team is already aware of that.
France is progressing happily. In Slovenia, Doncic shines with 35 points
Before that, the Olympic silver medalist from France had defeated the strong Turks, who were missing their playmaker Lane Sharkin due to a finger injury, almost 87:86 after extra time. The Turkish coach Ergin Ataman had previously sensed a conspiracy by the organizing association Fiba against his team. At first the Turks were disadvantaged in the game against Georgia because the clock went on 22 seconds despite the interruption. After a scuffle, the Turkish delegation even threatened to leave. Before the round of 16 against the French, Ataman complained about the early start at 12 o'clock: The Turks came from Georgia, the opponent had an extra day's rest because of his significantly shorter journey from Cologne. In any case, the Turkish coach, who is not exactly known for excessive restraint anyway, rumbled against the organizer after the game with clear words.
Only the first of group A could prevail, Spain won in an exciting game 102:94 after extra time against Lithuania. Because Slovenia also advanced to the quarter-finals after beating the uncomfortable Belgians 88:72, this supports the thesis that the German group in the preliminary round was by far the strongest. On the other hand, the success raised the question of who should stop this Luka Doncic. The Slovenian playmaker was once again the best thrower with 35 points and a decisive player on the floor. In a European Championship, no basketball player has scored more than 30 points in three consecutive games for 30 years.
The German team could only meet the Slovenes in the final, it would be the third comparison in a short time: In the group game, the German team conceded the only defeat in the tournament so far with 80:88 points. In the World Cup qualifier shortly before the start of the European Championship, however Germany got the upper hand with 90:71 - and found an answer to Doncic.