The memorable evening with the spectacular victory over basketball heavyweight USA robbed Dennis Schröder of his sleep. Because his family and his wife Ellen were already asleep in the hotel room and he really wanted to send a message to his fans, the captain of the national team crept down the Manila hotel corridor in the middle of the night.

“All the people who believed in me: I kiss your hearts. We worked very hard so that we could make history. Now we have made history,” said Schröder. “That means a lot to me.”

But the story is not over. On Sunday (2.40 p.m./ZDF and Magentasport) the basketball players can be crowned world champions for the first time against Serbia in the Mall of Asia Arena – the 29-year-old Schröder would thus finally cement his place in the German basketball history book. “I still can’t sleep because it’s so intense,” he said after the thrilling semi-final in the video he posted on his YouTube channel. The victory over the USA, which Schröder led, was probably the most impressive in the association’s history.

Praise for being an excellent leader

A year after winning bronze at the European Championships, Schröder and his “boys” can do something in their own country that not even national icon Dirk Nowitzki as leader of the national team at the time could do: bring a golden trophy to Germany. Internally, all colleagues and coaches praise him as an excellent leader. But national coach Gordon Herbert demands even more appreciation for Schröder.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for the way he leads the team. But also the way he uses others on offense and carries the ball. Against the USA he made a statement in that regard,” said Herbert before the final at Magentasport. The head coach and his captain always stuck together this summer. Both after Schröder’s severe criticism of Maximilian Kleber, who then canceled the World Cup – and after a real argument in the World Cup game against Slovenia. Even after the very weak quarter-final against Latvia, Herbert put himself in front of Schröder.

Sympathies first developed

Schröder and Nowitzki, the two great German basketball figures of the 21st century, are fundamentally different. While Nowitzki quickly became a crowd favorite with his down-to-earth and courteous manner, Schröder, who often appeared somewhat brash, had to earn a lot of sympathy first. How the playmaker appears to the outside world and how he presents himself to the public is still met with criticism today. Protz is part of the program at Schröder.

He has long since dispelled any doubts about his prominent basketball role for the German national team with outstanding performances and his annual willingness to sacrifice the summer after a long NBA season. He has internalized his role as a leader, and he says about the fascinating solidarity during the World Cup days: “What would I give to be able to play with all the twelve guys in the NBA? I would give a lot for that.” It won’t come to that, but on Sunday evening the twelve boys in Manila could become world champions.