Gala against the “Greek freak”, the long-awaited medal is close – thanks to a great performance, the German basketball players around captain Dennis Schroeder have eliminated Greece from the tournament with NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo and have been playing in the home championship of Europe for the first precious metal since the age of 17. In Berlin, the enthusiastic team unexpectedly beat the favorites in the quarterfinals with a score of 107:96 (57:61).
This is already the biggest success since sports icon Dirk Nowitzki said goodbye to fans at the 2015 European Championships in the capital. In the semi-finals on Friday, national coach Gordon Herbert’s team will take on world champions Spain before bronze or a really big coup is at stake on Sunday. This will be EM’s third medal after gold in 1993 and silver in 2005.
In a memorable triumph in front of 14,073 fans in a sold-out arena, Schröder became Germany’s top scorer with 26 points. Antetokounmpo had 31 points – five minutes before the end he had to leave the field after a second unsportsmanlike foul.
Just 25 minutes before the quarter-finals, it’s clear: “Franz Wagner is playing”
The importance of the game was also reflected in the media: RTL quickly reached an agreement with the rights holder MagentaSport, which broadcasts all German games for free and shows the quarter-finals on free TV. With Nowitzki as a studio guest. With just 25 minutes to go, the German Basketball Association (DBB) announced that its shooting star could be there despite an ankle injury in the Round of 16 against Montenegro (85:79). “Franz Wagner is playing,” tweeted succinctly, which is important for the team.
Like Johannes Voigtmann, who had a mild cold, the Berliner was in the starting five. Nick Weiler-Babb returned to the line-up after dropping out with a shoulder problem, although Herbert preferred Andreas Obst. Good move, the DBB team got off to a strong start and put on a real show as a threesome – five of the first six shots were successful. When Obst scored, making the score 19:9, the hall boiled. But Antetokounmpo restrained himself and scored well. In addition, the Greeks have always been successful in the zone.
“We don’t think our journey is coming to an end,” Herbert said. And his team met with the favorite at the replay of the 2005 European Championship final on equal terms. Unlike the 1/8 finals, when many places were empty, this time there was a huge support from the stands – including Greek fans.
When Wagner made it 44:40 with a crashing dunk (16th), the noise level went up a notch, the game remained high-end – and tight. Three seconds before the break, Schroeder made a wrong step, the Greeks were penalized for losing the ball when Kostas Sloukas signaled from the center line, making the score 61:57.
Germany started the second half with the series 20-1.
“We have to play better defensively,” demanded Johannes Tiemann on his way to the locker room. And they did it impressively: the Greeks were left without points for more than three minutes, thanks to the start of 20:1, the Germans quickly pulled far ahead (77:62/27), a sensation was brewing.
The Greeks did not succeed in this phase. Antetokounmpo, who had 19 points and eight assists at half-time, fought back from relegation. But the DBB team around a strong Schroeder always had an answer. The German captain also had to go to the dressing room early after his second technical foul – but when he entered Antetokounmpo, the game was over.