Okinawa’s beach and promenade are history for Germany’s basketball players. In the giant metropolis of Manila, not only is the hustle and bustle increasing – the World Cup requirements are also increasing.
In the charter flight to the Philippines, the German basketball players left Japan’s dream island and two perfect weeks behind them.
A blatant contrast awaits the new World Cup gold medalists around star player Dennis Schröder in the final round in Manila: the huge metropolis follows the beautiful beaches, the ideally located promenade and the tranquility of Okinawa. It’s getting loud, stuffy, hectic and muggy. But even the new circumstances should not disturb the extremely self-confident team of national coach Gordon Herbert on the road to success in Asia.
Wagner: “I’m not here for sightseeing”
“I’m not here for sightseeing. I want to gamble, I want to win a medal. That means: I take what comes. I take the games very, very seriously and I want to enjoy the rest,” said NBA professional Moritz Wagner about the change of scenery prescribed by the tournament schedule. In sunny Okinawa, where Germany had an unblemished record of five wins in five World Cup games, the Wagner brothers Moritz and Franz enjoyed strolling past souvenir shops and bakeries with their parents. Captain Schröder and his wife Ellen comfortably pushed the pram along the promenade in the evening.
It will probably not be that relaxed in the 25 million inhabitants of Greater Manila, where heavy showers are reported every day until the final on Sunday. And in terms of sport, the competition will be even tougher. Previously, the preliminary and intermediate rounds involved a mode that sometimes allowed a defeat, but now the rule is: win or fail.
“The group games are over, now it’s do or die,” summarized Herbert. In the first German World Cup quarter-finals since 2006 on Wednesday (10.45 a.m. / Magentasport) against outsiders Latvia. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. If we don’t let ourselves be diverted from our path, then a lot is possible,” said Moritz Wagner. Specifically: the first World Cup medal in 21 years or even the first World Cup title in the history of the association. The basketball players hope to be able to rely on Wagner’s brother Franz again. He recently missed four World Cup games due to an ankle injury.
Intermediate round opponent dominates
Before the onward flight to the Philippines, on which Schröder took various Japanese gifts for his three children, Germany had dominated its intermediate round opponents. Georgia (100:73) and Slovenia (100:71) had no chance. NBA star Luka Doncic was probably still impressed by the Germans’ defense on Monday’s two-and-a-half-hour joint charter flight. “Huge praise to everyone in the dressing room. Everyone puts their ego aside for the team. And everyone also lets me lead the team,” praised Schröder.
On the plane to Manila, the Slovenes occupied one side and the Germans the other. Victory in the group final also had practical value for Germany: While Doncic and Co. have to play the NBA star ensemble from Canada in the quarterfinals, Germany is clearly favored against the Latvians without their figurehead Kristaps Porzingis. After three weaker first halves, the leading player Schröder criticized at a high level: “We have to have a better start and be ready from the start. We have to get a little better in defense.” Only Germany and Lithuania travel to the finals with perfect records.
Schröder’s dispute with Daniel Theis and national coach Herbert should no longer play a role in the further course of the tournament. “Everyone listens to everyone else and that’s what sets us apart,” said the 29-year-old. If they win, there could be a semi-final duel with Olympic champions USA this Friday. Then not only the medal would be within reach, but also a direct Olympic ticket for Paris next year. A win over Latvia would be enough if the USA (vs. Italy on Tuesday) and Canada (vs. Slovenia on Wednesday) live up to their role as favorites in the quarter-finals.
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.