Germany’s ‘team-first’ mentality helps team win gold
Head coach Gordon Herbert hailed Germany’s “team-first” attitude after they beat Serbia to win the Fiba World Cup for the first time on Sunday, going unbeaten throughout the tournament.
Germany beat the Serbians 83-77 in Manila, breaking clear in the third quarter before hanging on for the win in a nervy finish.
Dennis Schroder finished as the game’s top scorer with 28 points and was also named player of the tournament.
Herbert hailed Toronto Raptors point guard Schroder’s impact on the team, saying “we would not be here without him and he would not be here without the team”.
“I think the biggest thing with this team is that we’ve enjoyed being here,” said Herbert.
“I can’t say enough about Dennis Schroder and what he’s meant for German basketball.
“I think Dennis would tell you first that this is a team-first thing.”
Serbia lost small forward Ognjen Dobric to a sprained ankle with less than three minutes of the game gone after a bad landing at the basket.
Star player Bogdan Bogdanovic almost did not play after struggling with illness before the game.
Serbia still managed to launch a furious fourth-quarter fightback and cut the deficit to three points with less than a minute remaining, but it was not enough to stop Germany.
“They deserved this win,” said Serbia head coach Svetislav Pesic.
“They played 40 minutes at a high level, with continuity, very physical.
“If one team like Germany won all the games from the start until the end, we must everybody say bravo.”
Germany edged past Latvia in the quarterfinals before beating the United States in a semifinal for the ages.
They were appearing in their first World Cup final and Schroder said it had been “a long ride” since he made his national team debut nine years ago.
“We’re enjoying every single moment, every single day, every single practice, every single game,” he said.
“We embrace it, we compete on the highest level, and that’s the reason why we did what we did. We wrote history.”
Both Germany and Serbia had already qualified for next year’s Paris Olympics as the World Cup’s two highest-placed European teams.
Germany finished third at last year’s EuroBasket championship and Herbert said they were in “year two of our three-year plan”.
Schroder said he hoped the win would lead to more of their games being shown live on German TV.
“Ten years ago when I first started we had Dirk Nowitzki, but other than that, nobody knew who people are on the team,” he said.
“Now we go to the Philippines or Okinawa and everyone knows our team.
“We just want our respect.”
Aleksa Avramovic finished as Serbia’s top scorer with 21 points, followed by Bogdanovic with 17.
Serbia was playing without power forward Borisa Simanic, who underwent surgery to remove a kidney after getting injured earlier in the tournament.
They were also without superstar Nikola Jokic, who skipped the tournament to rest after leading the Denver Nuggets to the NBA title last season.
“Our heads are already up,” said Avramovic.
“Our next goal is to go to the Olympics Games and make a better success than this.”
Canada claimed its first-ever bronze medal after beating the United States 127-118 in overtime earlier in the day.
Both teams had already qualified for the Olympics as the World Cup’s highest-placed teams from the Americas.