Shenzhen (dpa) - In front of Dirk Nowitzki it is almost everything for Dennis Schröder & Co. With a victory in the Kracher start against fellow favorite France, the German basketball players want to make the first step to the World Cup success in China and the longed for Olympic ticket.
"We are one of the strongest German teams ever, because we have so much potential and talent," said Schröder self-confidently after the first practice session on the World Cup. "We have prepared ourselves well and now it's really happening."
Due to the unusual scenery before the World Cup arena in Shenzhen DBB team could not be distracted further. Heavily armored Chinese military vehicles patrolled the parking lot for the crew bus. After the first test run in front of empty stands of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, the Germans were ready for the groundbreaking start.
Harder could be the first tournament game on Sunday (14.30 clock / Magenta sports), where legend Nowitzki is expected as a World Cup ambassador, hardly be. In a defeat against the world ranking third, the Rödl team would likely win the next four games to enter the quarter-finals and maintain the dream of a World Cup medal and the direct ticket for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. "Olympia is the ultimate goal for every athlete," said national coach Henrik Rödl. "We'll see if it'll be enough next year. Now the big goal is the World Cup and the game against France. We want to prepare well and then win. »
Also for the coach, who won World Cup bronze together with Nowitzki 17 years ago, the French are "one of the favorites" in China. But most recently, the selection of the German Basketball Association made good experiences with the permanent rivals. At the European Championships 2017 there was a victory in the round of 16, then trumped Schröder with 21 points and eight assists on big.
Even now, the 25-year-old is required immediately. "He is one of the best players in his position in the world, there is no better at this tournament," Rödl enthused about Schröder. "He's the one who wears the ball all the time, that is, all eyes are on him, the focus is on him. He makes a good impression and he is always focused. "
In orange slippers with the logo of his NBA club Oklahoma City Thunder Schröder went into the cabin. From the best league in the world, the French have five players in the team. Especially Star-Center Rudy Gobert ensures respect. "He changed the game defensively completely," said Center Johannes Voigtmann on the 2.16-meter giant, who was elected twice in a row the best defender of the NBA. "We have to try to take things away from him and then I think he does not have a lot of weapons offensively."
Despite a strong preliminary balance of six wins in seven games, the German team showed weaknesses under their own basket. In the attack Rödl but with Schröder, the other NBA professionals Daniel Theis and Maximilian Kleber and captain Robin Benzing and Bavaria's Paul Zipser a variety of top options. "In the abundance of players we have now, it is the most talented and yet the most compact squad in the history of German basketball," enthused Association President Ingo Weiss. "It's an incredible density and breadth."
Bayern Munich's Maodo Lo, who had to take a break due to ankle problems, will also be available for the opening match of this squad. The Schröder substitute took a throw from the midline at the conclusion of the training - and met without ring contact.
Basketball World Cup 2019
WM at MagentaSport