Germany got what they wanted but they may not like what they see. A first trip to the EuroBasket quarter finals since 2007 sees them go up against Spain. The reigning champions and overwhelming favourites to retain their crown on Sunday. Emmet Ryan on what Chris Fleming’s side must do in order to stand any chance against the biggest dogs in the yard
Not like this. When Dennis Schroeder’s second free throw clanged off the rim in Berlin 2015, the comeback died. Germany had looked down and out in the last game of group play. It was a straight up elimination game against Spain and Pau Gasol, en route to the tournament MVP, had carried his guys into a big lead late. Schroeder led the fightback. He wanted to give Dirk one more night in a Deutschland jersey. Schroeder drew the foul on the three. Making all of them would tie the game and force overtime. That miss and Germany’s inability to get a tip in opportunity off the third ended their tournament. Spain survived before eventually lifting the crown in Lille.
Dennis had a rough outing early against France in the knockout rounds here. Dirk’s gone and he’s the clear leader now. Fleming trusted him and Schroeder delivered as Germany overcame a furious Evan Fournier led fightback to hang on to win. The ticket punched and the biggest challenge possible on the docket.
Schroeder’s trusted by the players around him because the class of the player, a born competitor whatever else you may think of his game, is so far above the rest of the outfit. Most of Germany’s roster are Bundesliga role players. They are good role players, Lucca Staiger and Karsten Tadda have shown that plenty of times, but they’re not Spain. This isn’t a side with NBA All-Rookie players to bring off the bench. There’s no former defensive MVP, no two-time NBA champion, and all the other accolades you want to count. Two guys stand above the rest in terms of potential. Two players look like they can be a whole lot more. On Tuesday, they simply have to be.
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Daniel Theis and Johannes Voigtmann have both been late bloomers but my how they have blossomed. Theis proved he belonged at the Euroleague level this past season with Brose Bamberg and turned that into a contract with the Boston Celtics for the coming season. Voigtmann has displayed a career trajectory over the past three seasons that points to a man likely to get some NBA looks a year from now. They both look like they can be great, on Tuesday they battle the greats.
The big man duo were given a template by Ufuk Sarica in Turkey’s loss to Spain. Sarica put Sertac Sanli and Semih Erden in together for the first time to directly counter Pau and Marc Gasol. They were able to clog more than any team had against the brothers so far at this tournament but their offensive threat left a lot to be desired. Offensively, there’s a lot to like about Germany’s pair of bigs. Voigtmann is a rangy player and Theis is still finding his strength. Both are going to have issues with Marc but, as a tandem, they are Germany’s best hope to live with the Gasols.
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Limiting the Gasols or even, miraculously, taking them away, isn’t close to enough to beat Spain but it gives Germany a chance. It gives Schroeder room for the one on one battles he lives for and Germany lives and dies on his ability to make those fights happen. He wants Sergio Rodriguez, he remembers 2015. He wants Ricky Rubio, he wants to see if he can run over that kind of defender. Give him that and Germany can get make their role players matter.
The odds are still heavily against Germany but the route to getting a shot at victory is clear. They just need the young guys to deliver early.
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