106:71 against Hungary in the last group game: German basketball players meet Montenegro in Berlin

106:71 against Hungary in the last group game: German basketball players meet Montenegro in Berlin

Before the last group game against Hungary on Wednesday evening, the German team actually needed to talk. Captain Dennis Schröder and center Daniel Theis were rested, guard Nick Weiler-Babb was on the bench in civilian clothes with a shoulder injury and Justus Hollatz and Christian Sengfelder made their tournament debuts. But for spectators, players and experts, there was one topic in particular: Luka Doncic.

After the Slovenian superstar had inflicted the first defeat on Tuesday evening with 36 points on the German team, he added one more day later against France. His 47 points not only secured Slovenia top spot in their group, they were also the second-highest score ever at a European Basketball Championship. Only the Belgian Eddy Terrace with 63 achieved more in the distant past at the EM 1957.

The narrow success of the Slovenians answered the last open questions for the German team even before their own game against Hungary. Second in the group, the DBB team meets the third from Group A, Montenegro, on Saturday (6 p.m., Arena am Ostbahnhof and free of charge at Magentasport). The Germans had already qualified for the round of 16 in Berlin after three wins at the start.

Neither missing out on the group win nor the first defeat against Slovenia the night before changed the good mood. “It’s good for us to go home now and to have suffered such a defeat. That brings us down a bit,” Schröder said after the 80:88 against the defending champion on Tuesday evening.

After the good start to the tournament, including the spectacular extension thriller against Lithuania, the euphoria for the team had reached levels that had not been seen in German basketball for a long time. Slovenia suddenly seemed absolutely beatable and after his 32-point gala, Franz Wagner was partly celebrated in spheres that were previously reserved exclusively for Dirk Nowitzki.

While the game against Hungary, who have already been eliminated, had only limited sporting value, the duel with Slovenia was a good reality check and made it clear that there is still a long way to go to a targeted medal. But it also gave hope. Because although the German team didn’t play well, missed a lot of open throws and Doncic was serious for the first time in this tournament, it was close in the end. “It’s not a broken neck for us,” said Maodo Lo from Alba Berlin.

Now the focus is only on the final round in Berlin and the self-confidence is still high. The games against Slovenia, France and Lithuania in front of the record crowd in Cologne showed that this German team can also compete with the big basketball nations. In the clear 106:71 (22:19, 32:20, 27:19, 25:13) against Hungary, important players were able to conserve energy, while Sengfelder was the top scorer with 22 points in his first game.

Based on previous impressions, the DBB team is going into the round of 16 against Montenegro as the clear favourite. In the quarterfinals, a duel with the previously unbeaten Greeks around Giannis Antetokounmpo threatens. But the hosts already have a bit of experience with NBA superstars. (with dpa)

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