It has been two weeks since Germany won their fourth soccer World Cup and slowly life is getting back to normal even for basketball fans who might have taken a break from their sport the last month, but now it is time for basketball again. In the dog days of summer where Beko BBL team roster foundations are molded, the only basketball one can get a hold of after the end of NBA Summer League is to follow the German national team as they are getting ready for the next Eurobasket qualifications which will take place in August. The German National team had been together since the start of July and had played some friendlies in Italy and Portugal and also were happy and lucky to have their players back from the NBA Summer League with Dennis Schroeder, Elias Harris, Niels Giffey, Danilo Barthel and Daniel Theis. Everyone was excited to see the debut of Atlanta Hawk Dennis Schroeder who was unable to play for the German National team last summer, because he wasn´t cleared to play from his NBA team Atlanta Hawks. Germany had cut ex NBA player Tim Ohlbrecht a few days earlier as that was surely a big surprise for the ex Frankfurt Skyliner. Finland was without NBA player Kevin Murphy and Ludwigsburg defense specialist Shawn Huff, while Germany were without 2 time NCAA champion Nils Giffey and ex Bamberg center Tibor Pleiss. Despite the Oklahoma Thunder having the rights to Pleiss apparently there is interest from the Dallas Mavericks and Pleiss is shortly before signing somewhere and that is why he couldn´t play in Leipzig. How the future of Pleiss looks for the German national team this summer is in the air. That all depends when and where he is signed. Fraport Skyliner Johannes Voigtmann and Maxi Kleber also did not dress and were at the end of the bench watching the action.
In the game of soccer, you have at times maybe 3-4 big scenes and mistakes and turnovers in a game, but at a rate which happens in the game of basketball in the first minute. The first good scene on the court which wasn´t even involving the ball but the wiper. Usually kids handle this chore, but at times a player will help out as ex Alba Berlin and current FC Bayern Munich champion Heiko Schaffartzik did. Leipzip may be some 100 kilometers from the German capital Berlin, but who could forget his bowing to the fans in game four of the 2014 Beko BBL finals were he was violently booed. If this was a way of saying sorry was unknown, but at least a nice gesture from the “I can hit from anywhere on the court” Schaffartzik. Finland was the better team in the first five minutes as they had the lead and had virtually no inside game, but shot consistently from the parking lot. Finland was playing aggressive one on one defense forcing Germany to tough shots. The game also saw a familiar face from the Beko BBL with Kimmo Muurinen who played for Frankfurt in 2010-2011. He played very sturdy defense and found ways to sneak inside and grab offensive rebounds which he did twice. German national head coach Emir Mutapcic was subbing players in quickly, but it wasn´t until the third wave of players came in with Schroeder that the German game started to get going. On the first play of Schroeder, he put his ex Phantom teammate Daniel Theis into flying mode heaving up an ally-op pass for the dunk. Schroeder gave him a big smile and the combination looked so perfect like in the old days in Braunschweig. Schroeder led a 12-2 run at the end to give Germany the 22-19 advantage again.
The German national team continued to have problems in the second quarter to shake the annoying Finish team from their heels as they just didn´t wilt in the heat as they were doing very well in the warm conditions. Mutapcic had a very interesting constellation playing his three power forwards Harris, Barthel and Theis all at the same time while having Schaffartzik and Doreth at the guard position. This didn´t faze Finland as they continued to play smooth basketball hitting shots and getting on the fast break. Germany also at times was pushing it too much on offense not being calm. One could see that many guys were more excited about playing then being relaxed. Schroeder kept running the team, not choosing to showcase his scoring skills, but rather setting up his teammates. Frankfurt Skyliner Danilo Barthel got playing time making a soft two handed dunk from a nice feed from Scahaffartzik possibly teasing the hard core basketball fans giving them hope for harder dunks later on. Barthel also was aggressive as always being a force under the basket grabbing defensive rebounds. Germany also got early foul problems as Harris and ZIrbes got their third foul each. Finland kept Germany off guard as sharp shooter Petteri Koponen hit big shot after big shot. Ex TV Langen forward Robin Benzing got Germany back the lead nailing open three pointers, but Finland continued to chip away regaining the lead 39-37 at half time. An interesting scene occurred between NBA player Dennis Schroeder and captain Heiko Schaffartzik. Schroeder has tangled with Nowitzki, Lebron, Durant, Love, Etc in the NBA, but it is clear that he won´t tangle with Heiko as he is most obviously the leader on the German team. When Heiko talks, Dennis listens.
In the third quarter, Germany picked up their defense holding Finland to only 10 points and led 54-49 after three quarters. Skyliner Danilo Barthel was back in the game and was a great example for young inspiring basketball players that even when you make an error not to hang your head and mope around, but to stick with it. Barthel was beat on the baseline by Gerald Lee, but came back into the play and blocked the Finish trailer who had received the ball. Robin Benzing when left open is always a main option for Germany, because he is most dangerous then. Schroeder continued to make big plays as he was looking to inbound the ball as he had problems finding anyone and then out of the corner of his eye recognized ex TBB Trier center Andreas Seiferth cutting to the hoop found him for the easy bucket. Seiferth was on a role and then it was Schaffartzik that found Seiferth cutting to the basket for the simple hoop.
In the fourth quarter, Germany kept their composure and lead and would never relinquish it. Schroeder had infected his teammates with the Leipzig NBA Showtime basketball as Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas penetrated inside and made a quick over the shoulder pass to Daniel Theis that dunked the ball home and 54-51 Germany lead. Koponen kept Finland marching on the Germany lead trail with more big shots, but Germany played spectacular team basketball. On the fast break, Schroeder was double teamed on the side line had to answer quick and somehow found Lucca Staiger who then quickly flipped the ball to Andreas Seiferth who made his third fast break basket of the game. Schroeder then made his typical NBA finger tip lay in as Germany led 65-58. In Braunschweig a favorite target of Schroeder was Theis, but possibly a new favorite target was born in Leipzig with Schroeder-Harris as they began to harmonize. Schroeder found Harris on the ally-op for the monster stuff as the Schroeder ally-op play is as common for him any day as it is Achmadschah Zazi changing teams each season. Germany led only 67-61, but Finland had misfortune down the stretch as their hot hand Koponen missed three shots in a row which Germany capitalized from to heighten their lead to 72-65. Schroeder wasn´t done yet as he had one more spectacular play up his invisible sleeve with a back door bullet pass to Harris who dunked again. Germany prevailed at the end without problems winning 74-67. Germany was led by Ellias Harris with 13 points. Robin Benzing added 12 points and Daniel THeis 11 points. Dennis Schroeder had seven points and seven assists. Finland was led by Petteri Koponen with 16 points while Gerald Lee chipped in with 13 points. Germany play Finland again Monday.