Threes, dunks, blocks: Thanks to a furious performance, the German basketball players reach the semi-finals of the European Championship. Greece is not enough against the DBB team even a top performance from their superstar.
The dream is alive! Germany's basketball players have co-favorite Greece and NBA superstar at the home European Championship Giannis Antetokounmpo disenchanted with a spectacle and reached for a medal with the first semi-final entry in 17 years.
The team around the outstanding captain Dennis Schroeder won the quarterfinals 107:96 (57:61) and meets world champions Spain in the round of four on Friday.
"It was a special evening. An evening that German basketball has never seen before," said the strong Andreas Obst. "You can't believe it because the game just rushed past you." Franz Wagner was also completely enthusiastic. "It was awesome," he said NBA-Pro at Magentasport. "A great day."
One star is not enough for the Greeks
Antetokounmpo showed his class with 31 points, but was defeated by the brilliantly acting German collective and disqualified a good five minutes before the end after his second unsportsmanlike foul. Schröder also had to watch in the closing stages after his second technical foul.
Above all, a furious third quarter led to a surprising victory on the big stage. The strong quartet Schröder (26 points), Franz Wagner, Andreas Obst (19 each) and Daniel Theis (13 points and 16 rebounds) led the team of national coach Gordon Herbert in front of 14,073 spectators, the rest was done by a greatly improved team in the second half Defensive. Germany has thus in the past three weeks in France, Lithuania, Slovenia and Greece defeated four top teams. Even the second European title after 1993 now seems absolutely realistic.
The long-awaited duel with Antetokounmpo should be the German highlight of the previous basketball festivals in Cologne and Berlin become - and became. "It's huge for our sport. It's going to be a great evening," said superstar Nowitzki, who left three years ago and was a guest on the sidelines at RTL. The broadcaster from Cologne showed the game on free TV without further ado, and thousands of German and Greek fans flocked to the large arena.
Wagner and the ankle
Above all, there was the question of whether young star Wagner can play with his sprained ankle or not. The association kept the secret until 30 minutes before the start of the game and then announced: Wagner is playing. And how! The 21-year-old from the Orlando Magic performed confidently, converted two threes in the first quarter and boldly pulled to the basket again and again. On the defensive, he also stood in the way of the excellent Antetokounmpo.
The first quarter alone was basketball promotion. Thanks to Wagner, Schröder and Obst, the Germans converted eight threes and played offensively at the limit. But after ten minutes it was just 31:27 because NBA superstar Antetokounmpo also got off to a dream start on the other side. "The Greek Freak" was directly involved in 25 of 27 Greek points in the first quarter. Antetokounmpo could not be tamed at all with his athleticism and this time with his throws from the half-distance.
Head coach Herbert had already suspected that the 27-year-old from the Milwaukee Bucks would be the big threat to the EM favorite. "We have to keep him out of the zone and get him to take the jump shots," Herbert said of the man who had scored 145 points in 140 minutes in previous European Championship games.
Antetokoumpo was everywhere, at times the first half seemed like his personal duel with a strong team from the hosts. The busy Alba professional Johannes Thiemann, who first stole the ball from Antetokounmpo in the second quarter and then forced an unsportsmanlike foul, was particularly hard on him. The game, which was characterized by the two offensives, went into half-time with the Greeks four-points ahead - fitting for the first 20 minutes, Kostas Sloukas scored with the break siren from the halfway line.
"We played very well offensively, but the Greeks' 61 points at the break are of course far too many. We definitely have to defend better," said Thiemann at the break. That's how it actually happened, because everything went well after the change of sides. The throws fell in front, the defense was right in the back. A sensational 18:1 run gave Schröder and Co. a clear lead, and the Greek fans fell silent at times. Even without Maxi Kleber, Tibor Pleiss and Moritz Wagner missing this summer, the big hit in their own country now seems possible.