German basketball players qualify for Olympics
The German basketball players have fulfilled their dream of the Olympics with an impressive energetic performance. The team of national coach Henrik Rödl won the final of the qualifying tournament against Brazil with 75:64 (36:34) in Split on Sunday and, driven by the missing NBA star Dennis Schröder in the stands, secured the ticket to Tokyo. The best German scorer against strong South Americans was NBA pro Moritz Wagner with 28 points. The last time the German Basketball Federation team played in the Olympic Games was in Beijing in 2008 with superstar and flag bearer Dirk Nowitzki.
In Tokyo, the German team will face a number of difficult tasks. The DBB team will face Australia, Nigeria and Serbia or Italy in Group B, who met in the final of the qualifying tournament in Belgrade on Sunday evening. The preliminary round begins on July 25 with a clash against Serbia or Italy.
The German team had to do without Isaac Bonga at the Spaladium Arena. The NBA pro had twisted his ankle in the semifinal against Croatia on Saturday and had to pass. Rödl relied on experience in his starting five and brought in, among others, Berlin's Maodo Lo, who had excelled the day before against the tournament host with 29 points.
The DBB team started well and hit the first two threes. After that, the expected tough battle developed against the South Americans, who had won all their three games in Split beforehand by more than 25 points. Both teams had to work hard for every point, defense was the trump card as expected. After the first quarter, Germany was just behind (14:17), so the dream of the Olympics lived on.
Even more so when Germany came out of the third period break well and Wagner sent a strong signal with a crashing dunk to make it 23:19, forcing the Brazilians to call a timeout. Germany then pulled away to as many as eleven points (34:23). In the last minutes of the second quarter, however, the Brazilians shortened the gap again, so that everything was still open at the break (36:34).
However, Germany was not deterred by the Brazilian chase. The South Americans briefly took the lead, but then the German team, led by Wagner, pulled away again. Before the final period, the German team was ahead by six points. Also in the last ten minutes it remained a hard fight for every throw. Germany was able to slowly pull away, and at 67:56 with just under three minutes to go, was once again in the lead. In the final phase, captain Robin Benzing & Co. kept their nerve, the rest was just pure joy.
Photo by Markus Spiske