Henrik rodl was really proud. "The guys did a damn good job. The week was very enjoyable," said the national coach after the surprising opening victory of the german basketball team against france in the european championship qualifiers.
Five months after the completely messed up world championship in china, the german team collected its first plus points again with 83:69 in vechta, after having lost a lot of credit by the disgraceful 18th place at last year's world championship. "This was a first small step towards making amends," said armin andres, vice president of the german basketball federation.
In front of 3140 spectators in the sold-out rasta dome, captain robin benzing was the best scorer of a courageously performing german team with 22 points. "A win against france always feels good," said benzing. The german team was beaten by the french at the start of the world cup. "I wouldn't call it a revenge, because there were completely different teams on the pitch. But of course it's good for the self-confidence," said spain legionnaire benzing.
Because of the dispute between the federations and the euroleague, both teams had to do without their players from the teams in the european league, in addition to the nba pros. Rodl was thus also missing the players from bayern munchen and alba berlin besides nba star schroder. Three players – louis olinde, leon kratzer and bennet hundt – make their debut in the national jersey.
The fact that germany is competing against other countries in the qualifiers, because the team has already qualified to host the european championships in 2021, was not apparent at any stage to the hosts. "It's always an honor to play for germany. All the guys showed that again today," said benzing, explaining the motivated performance of the german team. Other opponents are great britain and montenegro. On monday, it's off to newcastle to face the brits. For the game, rodl called up debutants joshua obiesie and jan niklas wimberg to replace robin amaize and kratzer.
It will be really important for the german team again in june in croatia at the olympic qualifying tournament. Then it's about the last chance for a ticket to the olympics in tokyo. The squad will then look completely different again. At the DBB, they hope that as many NBA pros as possible will be back in the game.
"Of course, today's game didn't have much to do with the summer," rodl admitted frankly. "Nevertheless, these games are important for us," said the coach, who was also heavily criticized after the world cup fiasco. Firstly, because some young players can gain experience at a high level. But above all, to improve the recently so bad mood around the national team again. "We always want to see the national team with such euphoria as today," said vice president andres. The next time already on monday in great britain, which lost 74:81 at the start in Montenegro.