Saitama (dpa) - The longing goal Olympia is already close for the German basketball players eleven months before the start of the summer games.
Five kilometers south of the Saitama Super Arena, where the tournament is set to rise in gold in 2020, NBA star Dennis Schröder's team glanced off the hotel windows into a cloud-filled sky and started the penultimate stage of the World Cup preparation. At the World Cup in China, the dream of Olympia is at stake.
"We go in with great goals, we want to qualify for the Olympics," announced Bayern Munich new signing Paul Zipser for the World Cup. "If that does not work out at the World Cup, we have to go over the next summer."
The first two European teams make the direct qualification for the Summer Games in Tokyo. In the face of competition such as gold-co-favorite Serbia, Greece with NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and veteran Spain a very demanding task. The jump to one of four qualifying tournaments for the Olympics would be perfect even with the scheduled entry into the second World Cup group stage.
In this detour, the selection of the German Basketball Association (DBB) in 2008 made it to the summer games for the last time - led by superstar Dirk Nowitzki. "For me, Olympia was a sensational experience," recalls one of the most important and moving moments of his glorious career, the 41-year-old. Eleven years ago he wore the German flag at the opening ceremony in Beijing. "I also wish the next generation this kind of experience," says Nowitzki, who is expected as the World Cup ambassador for the first group match of the German team against France.
Until the kick-off on 1 September, the team of national coach Henrik Rödl after four wins in four preparatory games now wants to bring in the country of the next Olympic host further World Cup momentum. Even in the duels with Tunisia on Friday (10:00 clock) and Japan on Saturday (8:00 clock / both Magentasport) but it is not against the absolute top international class. Only after arriving in China on August 28, at the dress rehearsal against medal candidate Australia, a true location determination.
The Olympic fourth could also wait in the second round as a counterparty to the German team. "Our wishful thinking is that we reach the second round in Nanjing and that we have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics," said DBB President Ingo Weiss of the German Press Agency on the official goal. "After the second round, we can say what's going to happen now, make a goal, and say we want to become world champions - I do not want that."
If the public is talking about a World Cup medal, however, this is "legitimate," emphasized Weiss. "I think it's fair and right, we have three chances to win a medal in the next three years: at the World Cup, at the Olympics and at the European Championships in Germany 2021."
Basketball World Cup 2019
WM at MagentaSport