Dennis Schroder (R) of Germany defends as Klemen Prepelic of Slovenia shoots during the second round match between Germany and Slovenia at the FIBA World Cup 2023 in Okinawa, Japan, Sept. 3, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhang Xiaoyu)
Dennis Schroder has become the unquestionable leader of German basketball, inspiring the team to five consecutive victories at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
by Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — The scene in a Japanese restaurant may reveal Dennis Schroder’s significant role in German basketball. Schroder appeared to be in high spirits while conversing with German fans, wishing them a pleasant evening and encouraging them to enjoy their dinner after patting them on the shoulder.
The 29-year-old NBA player has undeniably grown into the role of an undisputed leader for the team, which has garnered international attention following five consecutive wins at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, including victories over Australia and Slovenia.
As Germany prepares for their quarterfinal against Latvia on Wednesday, a medal seems within reach, with Schroder having developed into the country’s “Mr. Basketball.” The last person to achieve a similar significant status was Germany’s basketball icon and former Dallas Mavericks star, Dirk Nowitzki.
After years marked by an ambivalent relationship between Schroder and the supporters, the Toronto Raptors player has won over the fans’ hearts alongside his leading role as the German team’s captain. “You can’t escape his charismatic style, as he positively motivates everyone on the squad,” emphasized power forward Daniel Theis.
Following ups and downs in his career, Schroder appears to have accepted a leading role that requires him to take responsibility not only for himself but also for the entire team. “Everyone is setting aside their egos and moving in the same direction,” the point guard said.
Schroder made it clear that the recently gained success is a thing of the past after the team traveled from Japan to the Philippine capital, Manila. He spoke about “a complete restart from scratch.”
Coach Gordie Herbert referred to the Latvia game as a “do-or-die situation,” while Theis said, “You might have performed well in the group stage, but a bad day in the knockout stage could spoil everything.”
The team has its sights set on a medal but hasn’t forgotten that advancing to the semifinals likely means earning a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
The potential return of Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner is providing extra motivation for the Germans. Wagner underwent training tests, and according to Gordon, things look promising for the 22-year-old to at least play for some time.
For Moritz Wagner, the shift from the tranquil Okinawa to the bustling Manila hasn’t disrupted the team’s focus. “We’re not here for sightseeing; we have a medal in mind,” said the Orlando power forward. ■