Our preview series of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup final between Germany and Serbia continues with a look at Germany’s painful journey to the top. Dennis Schroeder has seen the lows but can he bring them the ultimate high
Not like this
The autumn of 2015 felt special. As I lay on a mattress that was technically my bed in Berlin, there was a changing of the guard for Germany. Dirk Nowitzki was playing in his last ever major tournament for Deutschland. Dennis Schroeder was playing in his first. The city was hosting one of the groups and going there was an easy choice for me.
Dirk, just four years removed from winning his lone NBA championship, looked old. His body was not what it was and it was obvious. The fans may have been there for the legend but the team would rely on a 21 year old from Braunschweig. Dennis fought, no question, but valiance and bravado wouldn’t be enough.
Sitting in a restaurant in the city, I had a silly idea for an article, it came to the denouement. Germany roared back against Spain in a must-win game for both sides. It was all Schroeder. He drew a foul on a three point attempt. Make all three and Germany would force overtime against Spain. He missed the second.
For all the young man’s heroics, Germany simply weren’t at the level needed to get the job done at that point. This would change and quickly.
A maturing team
Germany went into the 2017 edition of EuroBasket with expectations to be better than two years prior but not any major expectations. Here we saw Dennis Schroeder emerge as a true leader albeit still very much the Dennis Schroeder we all know too well. Against France in the round of 16, he started awful but roared back.
Check out our profile of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia ahead of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Final.
It put Germany into the quarter finals for the first time since 2007. It felt businesslike. Then there ran into a familiar foe. Spain, again, were their undoing. It wouldn’t be the last time that Germany fell to the kings of European basketball of the 21st century.
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The great leap forward
While the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup was forgettable for Die Mannschaft and the 2021 Olympics was fine, their next international outing would be so very different. They hosted both a group and the knockout rounds of EuroBasket 2022 and this team was loaded.
Joining Schroeder was Franz Wagner, Daniel Theis, Johannes Voigtmann, and more. This was a team built to compete. They took down Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece in front of an electric crowd in the quarter finals. Then Dennis Schroeder was very Dennis Schroeder, for good and bad, as they fell once more to Spain. This felt different however as the disappointment had a new flavour.
Check out our breakdown of Serbia vs Germany in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup final now
This wasn’t a case of their pluck not being enough against a more talented opponent. Germany was the one with the loaded roster. They were out thought and out played but never outgunned. The bronze medal that followed, their first medal since 2005, gave them a taste for better things.
A team with belief
Just win baby. Germany are on a 7-0 run at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. They dominated all before them up until the knockout stages. Yet the challenges of the mind remained. Against Latvia, we got the worst version of Dennis Schroeder. Against the USA, we got the most patient version.
Most importantly, it was now more than Schroeder and that makes Germany a real threat to all going forward. Moritz Wagner has joined Franz on the national team. Andreas Obst has been a shooting phenomenon. All of the role players really do know their roles. This is a side that fears no opponent and accepts no excuses.
Playing with house money
Germany can already mark the the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup down as an extraordinary success. They have qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics. This is the first time ever that Germany has reached consecutive Olympics.
They really don’t want to settle for that. A silver medal in Manila would be nice but beating Serbia? That would mean so much more. They would beat Svetislav Pesic, the man who led them to their only ever gold medal. They would announce themselves as true powers on the global stage.
There is all that but there is also the sheer competitor that lives within Dennis Schroeder. At that 2015 EuroBasket, a German journalist described the appeal of him. For Schroeder there is him, an opponent, and a ball. He wants to see who is better.