Dennis Schroeder couldn’t have started any colder but once he got hot, Germany rowed in right behind him. Emmet Ryan on how the guard found his moment and got a big helping hand from Daniel Theis to beat France and advance to the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2017
The build up to this was pretty simple: What on earth is wrong with France? Les Bleus may be missing big names like Nicolas Batum and Tony Parker but they still arrived at EuroBasket with a roster the envy of most sides. Through the group phase they were limp and looked utterly rudderless in defeat to Slovenia. A lot more was going to be needed today against a German side that featured Dennis Schroeder in aggressively dominant form from the start of the competition.
It was a cagey enough opening as France hung tight on D, looking to limit Schroeder’s effectiveness and force him to bring the rest of a German roster into the game more. With a supporting cast of Bundesliga role players, Schroeder knew he needed to be able to take on a lot of the load and France were out to reduce his usage.
Evan Fournier was extremely motivated early on. Having been enraged after fouling out against Slovenia, the Orlando Magic man had his game face on for this one. The biggest asset for France however was the sheer number of options. France moved the ball and had plenty of guys capable of making space on the floor.
A three from Boris Diaw brought the lead to double digits midway through the frame and France were looking like, well, France. Germany’s shooting was doing nothing to concern France and Les Bleus got a few fine stints off the bench to look in firm control at the end of the first, 19-10.
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Germany didn’t really look all that much sharper to start the second but they caught a nice break when Lucca Staiger had a four point play. France however remained in cruise control, with Joffrey Lauvergne a menace to the German defence. With the pace slackening, Vincent Collet called in the troops. It did the trick nicely as Diaw and Kevin Seraphin kept piling on the pressure.
Schroeder was on an island here, missing his first 7 shots of the game. The Schroeder that had gone all out through the group phase couldn’t buy a bucket in the cavernous Sinan Erdem Dome. He finally got off the mark from the line with 2 minutes left in the half. A nice fake out gave Schroeder his first from the field and he drove inside for another to give him a much needed confidence boost before the break. The score was manageable but any hope Germany had was going to rest on him coming good after the break. At the half France led 40-34.
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A brief Allez Les Bleus broke out at the start of the third as the somewhat less empty arena took an interest in the action. Dennis however had found his groove and was now happy to go at France. He was in the fight and liked the taste. A leap to keep the ball in bounds got the ball to Robin Benzing, back to Schroeder, and he immediately put in Daniel Theis for the and-1 dunk.
Lauvergne had the answer with a hard dunk on Theis and another following a technical by Schroeder. The Atlanta Hawks point guard had to literally put his hand on his mouth to prevent himself picking up a second T as he reacted to a foul by Lauvergne. He had been canny enough to draw three from the line and soon Germany were back within 2.
Getting killed on the boards and struggling with their shooting, the only thing Germany had going for them was ball security but midway through the third, that was proving enough. Theis tied things up from the line. The seeds of doubt were being sewn in French minds, they had delivered some clunkers in the group stage and now they were being tested by a German side not close to its best.
France held a 56-55 lead to start the fourth as Schroeder sat. Brose Bamberg’s Maodo Lo stepped in nicely as Germany more than hung with Les Bleus despite the absence of their leader. A pair of threes from Lo’s club mate Staiger pushed Germany into a two possession lead, their first taste of an advantage since the game’s opening moments.
A mini run by Fournier put France back on top and Chris Fleming reinserted Schroeder with 5.28 to play. The impact was immediate as Germany went deep twice more. Schroeder was ready to run France out of the building. The charges came but their was calm within, letting France foul him or looking for an open outlet.
France fought back hard via Evan Fournier, who went full Rambo down the stretch, but Schroeder and Theis held their nerve. Germany advance.
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