The premiere of national basketball coach Gordon Herbert looks like a joke.

In front of a thousand spectators in Nuremberg this Thursday (7 p.m. at MagentaSport) he will begin qualifying for the 2023 Basketball World Cup with a national team that will compete without eighteen: without the seven German professionals from the NBA such as Dennis Schröder from the Boston Celtics, who Wagner Brothers of the Orlando Magic and Daniel Theis of the Houston Rockets - who, with the exception of Maxi Kleber and his Dallas Mavericks, all have games on Thursday.

But only one of them, Moritz Wagner, was part of the glorious Olympic team in 2021. Nobody can seriously expect the big boys to fly in from America during the season for the first qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup, against Estonia and in Poland on Sunday.

Europe would be closer than the NBA - if it weren't for the controversial competition between FIBA ​​and the Euroleague. Of the eleven German national players who are once again affected by their schedule clash, Tibor Pleiß and his master team Anadolu will play in the Istanbul local derby against Fenerbahce with Danilo Barthel and Ismet Akpinar on Thursday evening. Bayern Munich with Andreas Obst will play against ZSKA with Johannes Voigtmann in Moscow. Alba Berlin with Maodo Lo and six other national players will face Maccabi Tel Aviv. And all of these games and a few more from the Euroleague will be broadcast live, just like the international match.

Herbert puts the potential national team at thirty or forty players. This generosity is due to the fact that in autumn and winter he has to get by with the second and third rows in international matches against teams that also lack the best. This kind of test for two or three veterans plus a dozen inexperienced talents can be seen as a tribute to the Bundesliga. With quota places for German players, she has opened a source of talent that not only feeds the BBL teams, but also arouses the desire of international teams.

With all due respect for the youth work, Herbert actually has to represent a fraudulent label from the first day of his work: a national team in which the best, if at all, only play in the summer.

In which those struggling to qualify are no more than placeholders.

Herbert tries to make a virtue out of necessity: He doesn't see his players as the stopgap, but the future.