In the charter flight to the Philippines, the German basketball players left Japan’s dream island and two perfect weeks behind them.

A stark contrast awaits the new World Cup gold candidates led by star player Dennis Schröder at the final round in Manila: the beautiful beaches, the well-located promenade and the tranquil peace of Okinawa are followed by the giant metropolis. It gets loud, stuffy, hectic and humid. But the new circumstances shouldn’t disturb national coach Gordon Herbert’s extremely self-confident team on their way to success in Asia.

Return of Franz Wagner drags on

“I’m not here for sightseeing. I want to gamble, I want to win a medal. That means: I take what comes. I take the games very, very seriously and I want to enjoy the rest,” said NBA professional Moritz Wagner about the change of scenery prescribed by the tournament schedule. In sunny Okinawa, where Germany had an unblemished record of five wins in five World Cup games, the Wagner brothers Moritz and Franz enjoyed strolling past souvenir shops and bakeries with their parents. Captain Schröder and his wife Ellen comfortably pushed the pram along the promenade in the evening.

After landing in the Philippines, free time wasn’t the order of the day anyway. On the day of the trip, Herbert let his team – on an optional basis – get together and sweat in the Mall of Asia Arena. Captain Schröder was the only professional to train shirtless, his recently painful back doesn’t seem to cause him any problems before the big knockout games. Things are different for young star Franz Wagner, who can no longer get into contact training. “He wants to play. He’s quite frustrated and disappointed that he can’t play. He really wants to come back,” said Herbert. At least Wagner took a few throws in the hall. The return of the 22-year-old continues.

The whole process in the 25-million-inhabitant area of ​​Manila, where heavy showers are reported every day until the final on Sunday, will probably not be as relaxed as in Okinawa – that made day one clear in the midst of traffic jams and countless people. And the sporting competition is also becoming much tougher. Previously, the preliminary and intermediate rounds involved a mode that sometimes allowed a defeat, but now the rule is: win or fail.

“Do or die”

“The group games are over, now it’s do or die,” summarized Herbert. The first German World Cup quarter-final since 2006 will be against outsiders Latvia on Wednesday (10.45 a.m./Magentasport). “We have a lot of trust in ourselves. If we don’t let ourselves be distracted from our path, then a lot is possible,” said Moritz Wagner. Specifically: the first World Cup medal in 21 years or even the first World Cup title in the association’s history.

Before the onward flight to the Philippines, on which Schröder took various Japanese gifts for his three children, Germany had dominated its intermediate round opponents. Georgia (100:73) and Slovenia (100:71) had no chance. NBA star Luka Doncic was probably still impressed by the Germans’ defense on Monday’s two-and-a-half-hour joint charter flight. “Huge praise to everyone in the dressing room. Everyone puts their ego aside for the team. And everyone also lets me lead the team,” praised Schröder.

On the plane to Manila, the Slovenes occupied one side and the Germans the other. Victory in the group final also had practical value for Germany: While Doncic and Co. have to play the NBA star ensemble from Canada in the quarterfinals, Germany is clearly favored against the Latvians without their figurehead Kristaps Porzingis. After three weaker first halves, the leading player Schröder criticized at a high level: “We have to have a better start and be ready from the start. We have to get a little better in defense.” Only Germany and Lithuania travel to the finals with perfect records.

No sanctions for Schröder after dispute

Schröder’s dispute with Daniel Theis and national coach Herbert on Sunday should no longer play a role in the further course of the tournament. “Everyone listens to everyone else and that’s what sets us apart,” said the 29-year-old. There should also no longer be sanctions for Schröder, Herbert insisted on an internal clarification of the remarkable incident.

A victory over Latvia could lead to a semi-final duel with Olympic champions USA this Friday. Then not only the medal would be within reach, but also a direct Olympic ticket for Paris next year. A semi-final entry would be enough if the USA (against Italy on Tuesday) and Canada (against Slovenia on Wednesday) live up to their role as favorites in the quarter-finals.