“It will be a great challenge, we take it with pride”
Germany’s basketball players meet title favorite Greece in the quarterfinals of the European Championship. In the team around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, there is great respect for the Germans. But the DBB team is still worried about two of its top performers.
Dhe favorite for the title wobbled alarmingly, but he didn’t fall over. Greece won 94:88 (41:45) against outsiders the Czech Republic in Berlin on Sunday evening and remains unbeaten as the last team at the European Championship. The Greeks around Giannis Antetokounmpo are now German opponents in the quarter-finals. Superstar Antetokounmpo (27 points, ten rebounds) only surpassed the Czech Republic after a weak start in the second half.
“Mathematically we are unbeaten, but what was in the past is history. We want to play even better. We had difficult moments,” said coach Dimitrios Itoudis late on Sunday evening after his team had more problems than expected against the Czech Republic. Georgios Papagiannis added: “Germany have been playing very well since the tournament started. We have to play great defense to stay in the tournament.”
Before the duel with the favorite Greeks on Tuesday (8.30 p.m. / Magentasport), Germany’s basketball players are struggling with injury concerns. There is still a question mark over the use of Franz Wagner (ankle) and Nick Weiler-Babb (shoulder). After all, the first MRI images of Wagner after twisting his ankle in the round of 16 against Montenegro showed no serious injury.
Ultimately, however, the Orlando Magic, whose physio accompanies the German team and Wagner this summer, will also decide whether further appearances by Wagner at this European Championship are possible. “If he doesn’t play, we have to find a replacement,” said national coach Gordon Herbert.
Greece’s Antetokounmpo has also been complaining about ankle problems recently, but appears to be fit and fully resilient again. The top scorer of the previous European Championship made the decision against the Czechs in the final minutes. Alongside Giannis, his two brothers Kostas and Thanasis Antetokounmpo are also part of the Greece squad.
Schröder raves about Antetokounmpo
The German team is now isolating itself before the quarter-finals. So there should be no more official training on Monday, as the German Basketball Federation (DBB) announced on Monday night in Berlin. National coach Herbert had already released Sunday. The program included video training and time with the family.
“It will be a great challenge, we take it with pride,” said Dennis Schröder. When asked about Antetokounmpo, the German captain went into raptures: “He’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s one of the best players in the world. He has a winning mentality that he brings to the NBA over the years. It will be a challenge for me.”
The other quarter-finals at the European Championship are Spain against Finland on Tuesday and France against Italy on Wednesday and defending champion Slovenia against Poland. The semi-finals will follow on Friday, and the next European champion will be determined on Sunday evening.