Franz Wagner and Co. met their final opponent in the foyer of the huge team hotel before the biggest game in German basketball history. Former national coach Svetislav Pesic shook hands in a relaxed manner and had small talk with opponents Germany one day before the World Cup title duel with his Serbs.

Only one game separates the national team, which excelled at the World Cup in Asia, to crown an entire generation and immortalize themselves in the history books. “The boys understand this opportunity. This is a chance that only comes once in a lifetime in such a big final,” said national coach Gordon Herbert.

The team around captain Dennis Schröder wants to ennoble an already unforgettable summer with the golden trophy in Manila on Sunday (2:40 p.m./Magentasport and ZDF) against the sophisticated Serbs. The sporting nation is thrilled, even the country’s highest political representatives note the achievements of the basketball players who are still undefeated at the World Cup. Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the first World Cup final appearance “historic” via

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier even opened the citizens’ festival in the park of Bellevue Palace with the words: “Just in case you haven’t heard it yet: a sensation at the Basketball World Cup.” And after seven World Cup games in Okinawa, Japan and in Manila, which MagentaSport only broadcast free of charge, ZDF is now also joining in for the final and broadcasting live.

Focus on the finale

The team with leader Schröder, celebrated as an outstanding collective, is trying to ignore the new hype as best as possible – at least until Sunday. “A win against the USA is very, very cool, but we still have one game. We still have to stay focused and play against strong Serbs,” said the 29-year-old, who has had to endure a lot of criticism in recent years. Schröder could be the one who lifts the first World Cup trophy in German history at the Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines on Sunday.

The day before the final, Herbert deliberately didn’t put much on the pros’ agenda. Voluntary throwing training, a 30-minute video session on the final opponent with the former German coach Pesic (74) and a lot of regeneration. “There is no time to celebrate and no time to feel good in any way,” said Herbert, whose three-year project with home European Championships (bronze), World Cup and Olympics is already in its second summer before the ultimate culmination. There was therefore no reward for the coup against the USA. After a late dinner, the 64-year-old Canadian dissected video footage of the Serbs until 3 a.m.

Experienced Pesic, who sensationally made Germany European champions in Munich in 1993 and collected national and international titles with Alba Berlin and FC Bayern, could become the spoilsport of German basketball happiness three decades later. “He has been playing strong defense with high pressure for 30 years. I have huge respect for him. He has a huge influence on basketball in Germany. Basketball would be different if Pesic hadn’t existed,” emphasized Herbert. With a win on Sunday, his team would even surpass Dirk Nowitzki’s generation. The superstar, who retired as a professional athlete in 2019, will forego a visit to the final in Manila.

Franz Wagner in Nowitzki’s footsteps

In addition to Schröder, Franz Wagner, who was reminiscent of the young Nowitzki against the USA, could become a key figure. The ankle injury has been dealt with and Wagner is fit again. “It’s about the World Cup title. Final, throwing everything in again and playing the same way we played before. The mood is good as always, we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” said Wagner. He doesn’t want to deal with the idea of ​​possibly wearing the title “Basketball World Champion” from Sunday. “The team that has this idea more will have a more difficult game tomorrow,” predicted the Orlando Magic professional.

The 224-point spectacle against the USA impressively showed what Germany’s basketball players are all about. In addition to the actual stars, the now universally celebrated three-point specialist Andreas Obst and the powerful center Daniel Theis also stood out. “The environment is the most important thing. The trust in the group is huge, it’s great fun. Of course everyone enjoys it,” said Moritz Wagner. The joint six-week journey from Bonn via Berlin, Hamburg, Abu Dhabi and Okinawa to Manila should now end with the final highlight.

The sporting nation, which is suffering from various defeats, could also do well with this. Footballers and handball players have suffered defeats at major events in recent years; the athletics team remained without a medal for the first time at the World Cup in Budapest in August. After all, the ice hockey team also made it to the World Cup final this year, and the men’s hockey team even won the title in India.

“The suffering sports nation, that sounds so dramatic. I relate that more to the sport of basketball, I have to be honest. I don’t dare talk about other sports now,” said Moritz Wagner. There are currently only positive things to say about our own area. “I’m part of the basketball culture in Germany. Being part of this wave in recent years is just something very nice.” The best is yet to come on Sunday.