German basket players threatened with elimination after next exchange

German basket players threatened with elimination after next exchange

As in the disillusioning performance against belgium, the young german basketball team of national coach frank menz lost to the undefeated ukraine despite a gripping comeback and after the 83:88 (30:39) has to fear for the entry into the intermediate round.

After the humiliation in the next european championship nerve thriller, the german basketball players crept dejectedly off the parquet with their heads down. And also at the evening reception in the residence of the german embassy in ljubljana the mood lightened only slowly. "Of course it’s a tough loss, but we have to admit that ukraine was better today," analyzed robin benzing and dampened public expectations: "because we beat france, a lot of people think that we are the best now. But we have to stay on the ground."

Led by captain heiko schaffartzik (22 points), the german basketball team fought its way back from a 16-point deficit, but in the end could not keep up with the cool eastern europeans.

Like belgium, france also celebrated its second success and easily beat israel 82-63. With one win so far, the german team must win the final group games against great britain on sunday and israel on monday and hope for protection. The ukraine had the best thrower in sergej gladyr (25) and can almost certainly plan for the next round.

"We played a good game," said menz. Before the team and the delegation around association president ingo weiss made themselves comfortable in the garden of ambassador anna prinz’s residence, he looked ahead with confidence: "we had a chance to win against a good team. That gives us courage."

Despite the third game in 42 hours, there was no sign of tiredness in the german team at the beginning. After a nervous start on both sides, schaffartzik scored the first points, youngster niels giffey contributed two threes – after just under five minutes, US coach mike fratello tried to readjust the ukrainian team at 2:10.

Everyone in the squad has to step up, menz had demanded, and in view of the long playing time of leaders schaffartzik and robin benzing in the energy-sapping defeat to verlangerung against belgium, he made early substitutions. But the second guard had problems and lost the line. The expected intense match between two nerveless opponents at eye level developed, with the german team leading 16:15 after the first quarter.

But the ups and downs continued, the performance of the menz men remained inconsistent and fickle. No comparison to the brilliant opening coup against co-favorite france: for more than five minutes no basket was scored, the ukraine pulled away and went into the dressing room with a deserved nine-point lead. "The game against france was not representative," menz explained ruthlessly after the second setback. "We can not consistently play at the highest level."

Although benzing, who was the tournament’s best point scorer before the third period, shortened the lead to four again at the start of the second half. But the german team focused too much on distance shots and thus remained predictable. Especially tibor pleib, who had missed the equalizer against belgium shortly before the end, was no factor offensively after twisting his ankle in the second quarter. "We have to stay calm," menz demanded during a timeout. "We only shoot free threes and get the ball to the basket."

But instead the ukraine suddenly fell almost every throw. It wasn’t until schaffartzik took charge again at the start of the final period that a jolt went through the team. First, the FC bayern point guard put up zirbes again and sank five free throws in a row. With a giffey three even managed three minutes before the end the first lead since the middle of the second quarter.

But with too many mistakes the german team let the game slip away, the ukrainians remained strong nerved from the free-throw line at the end. "We are all very down," schaffartzik revealed. "In this respect it is very good that now a day is free. Then we can hopefully readjust, we first have to get away from basketball."

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