After a surprising start, Germany shows that it has the right tools for an inspiring run at the EuroBasket 2022.
Dennis Schroder was excited about the poster he received on his way to the locker room after a consecutive EuroBasket win. "Deutschland, go for Gold," it said.
When a few NBA players couldn't join the co-hosts of EuroBasket 2022, just surpassing the group stage sounded like a realistic goal for many German basketball fans.
But coming off a solid win over the Olympic finalists France, now Germany remains one of the eight unbeaten teams in the tournament.
German players are collectively avoiding talking about surprising and making statement wins. But their game speaks for itself.
BasketNews gives a few reasons why Germany is a team to watch and might become a dark horse of the EuroBasket.
The German national team has one of the most charismatic stars in the EuroBasket.
Dennis Schroder is so fun to watch. He smiles a lot, connects the packed Lanxess arena, and brings these funny celebrations after spectacular plays.
For example, he stopped and looked at his palm as if he had a superpower after dishing a quick assist followed by Niels Giffey's three-pointer.
Although his long-range shot is off -- he is only 1 of 9 beyond the arc -- Dennis Schroder also brought a lot of quality so far.
He's the top-scorer of his team, averaging 14.5 points and seven assists. A 28-year-old NBA guard sets the tone for his team both on and off the court and is becoming a true general of his group.
"Dennis is exceptional. He is one of the best point guards in Europe. He has crazy abilities, like crazy athleticism and speed. But besides that, he plays with a certain pace and tonus, which is very interesting to observe and also something to learn from," the German guard Maodo Lo said to BasketNews.
"It's tough to play against him in practice every day. It's probably the best competition I will see. It's a challenge, but at the same time, I can learn a lot," the ALBA Berlin guard added.
"One of the biggest things about Dennis is that he never reacts to what the refs are doing. If they make a bad call or a good call, he's always smiling, and he's always having a good time out there. Making sure everybody's involved, making sure everybody's happy," the German national team newcomer Nick Weiler-Babb told BasketNews.
"Just to see him at such a level playing like that and being excited for whatever happens… He is a big person to follow," Bayern Munich floor general added.
It's rare to find a team that can match the excitement on and off the court of the Slovenia national team. But the Germans are as close to it as it gets.
It also starts with Schroder, one of the most exciting EuroBasket players to watch. But there is more than that.
Maodo Lo made a spectacular dribble in transition and was cooking with contested three-pointers against France.
This German team exemplifies how much you can enjoy the defensive team.
On the eve of the EuroBasket, Germany contained Slovenia to 71 points.
The same team averaged more than 100 points per game in the last year's Olympic games.
France barely managed to score 63 points in the EuroBasket opener. Vincent Collet's squad averaged 86 in Tokyo and was in the top 4.
Germans are aggressive, physical and don't want to let you breathe on the offensive end.
Such a defensively versatile frontcourt with Daniel Theiss, Wagner's ability to defend five positions, and strong backcourt guards, including defensive ace Nick Weiler-Babb, and the transition game makes the Germans a very uncomfortable opponent.
"The defensive abilities that we have as players and the willingness to defend," Lo said to BasketNews when asked what makes them a great defensive team.
"The defense is something which can win us games. And everyone is willing to buy it and play as a team defensively. It's all about the mindset," he added.